Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever Dog Breed
Nicknames: Toller, Little River Duck Dog, Yarmouth Toller
|Right Breed For You?||Thanks to their intelligence, this breed is highly adaptable to all conditions. Whether living in a small apartment or house, a Toller will need ready access to the outdoors. In a home with a yard, they are likely to be happy spending half their time indoors and half their time out. The opportunity to go out and explore the yard at will, can also help keep the Toller from becoming bored.||Discount Pet Supply Recommendations|
|Height:||17-21 inches (43-53 cm)|
|Weight:||37-51 pounds (17-23 kg)|
|Life Span:||12-15 years|
|Litter Size:||4-6 puppies|
|Color:||Shades of red and orange uniform over the body. White markings on the feet, face, chest and the tip of the tail are acceptable.|
|Recognized By:||CKC, FCI, UKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR|
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, despite its flawless and utterly unique performance in the field, is one of the lesser known groups of gundog. With a smaller, compact form that is strong and balanced, the breed almost resembles that of a Golden Retriever whose coat has taken on the reddish orange or tawny hue of an Irish Setter. Also known as the Little River Duck Dog or Yarmouth Toller, specimens in this breed are more commonly and simply referred to as “Tollers.” As early hunters found, the breed’s innate temperament and white markings made it perfect for tolling. Tolling is the act of attracting or luring small game such as waterfowl to a certain spot so a hunter can acquire an easier shot when the birds take flight. The Toller then happily retrieves the downed waterfowl or other small game.
At 17-21 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at 45-55 pounds, the dog is of a medium to thick build but never slight. Females may be somewhat smaller but are no less in stature. Along with the orange reddish coat there may be white markings on the head or feet but this is not always the case. The ears give the head somewhat of a triangular shape; wide at the top and smoothly narrowing down to the muzzle. The eyes are set to the side of a noticeable stop and are dark to medium in coloration, very friendly and alert looking in appearance. The muzzle is tapered to the nose and the lips and mouth are very tight, not with the loose lips of many of the gun dog breeds.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is very similar in appearance to a smaller version of the Golden Retriever. The body is muscular and stocky but still agile and very athletic. The body is relatively long, set on strong, solid legs and compact rounded feet. The tail is long and sweeping, with a noticeable curve upwards at the level of about the hocks of the back legs. The chest is deep and wide and the ribcage is well developed and solid in appearance. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a long, sweeping stride and a natural spring or bounce to their step.
One of the most recognized aspects of this breed is its coat that has been described as everything from orange and red to copperish and tawny. The double coat is long, somewhat wavy and coarse on the outer layer, followed by a dense, thick and softer inner layer next to the skin. The coat tends to be most wavy on the back and around the neck, and should be straight on the rest of the body.
Although the breed itself originates from Canada, for the most part it is believed that Toller’s had their very beginnings in Belgium sometime in the 17th century. Eventually the breed made its way over from Great Britain to Nova Scotia. As legend has it, after observing the behavior of foxes for whom tolling is a natural method for catching prey, outdoorsmen bred this unique characteristic into dogs for the purpose of catching small game with nets. In all reality, crossing the DNA of a fox with a dog would be genetically impossible. The dogs were likely bred to only look like foxes. Toller’s further came about as a breed at or around the turn of the century after being mated with retrievers and working class spaniels in the region of Yarmouth in Nova Scotia.
The temperament of the Toller is one that makes for a good companion when out in the field. They are alert but steady, not to mention ever patient. This also makes them an ideal family dog as well. Households with children do best with a dog that is patient and on the alert for anything suspicious. Toller’s are not especially useful as a guard dog and will do much better instead as an attentive watch dog.
They can be quite wary of new elements in their environment, giving a good bark or two just as an alert. They are also naturally playful and eager to please. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a good family dog, ready to play with kids and run and romp with the family. Generally not an overly enthusiastic dog the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a pleasant and gentle personality that can become very engage and attentive when they are hunting.
The nature of this breed will always come through and there should be no attempt to ignore or suppress these instinctual habits. Those who choose to use the dog in the vein for which it was bred will find they can start training their water loving Toller quite young using simple retrieving exercises. With the help of a professional trainer, one can have their dog ready to go and out in the field in no time. When given the chance, one should never pass up the opportunity to watch these magnificent animals at work.
The Toller is always eager to get out and has an inherent enthusiasm for performing its hunting duties. It is not unheard of for the Toller to give a look of complete disdain or sigh when a hunter misses a shot, delaying their opportunity to get out and retrieve.
The Toller is essentially a robust breed that can share many of the same common complaints as any other dog, such as hip dysplasia or heartworms. However, regular vet checkups can help to lessen or keep these problems at bay. There are occasionally serious health conditions found within the breed that include:
- Thyroid – poor overall health, hair condition and growth.
- PRA – progressive retinal atrophy that will lead to increasing levels of blindness for the dog.
- Hip Dysplasia – a gradual degeneration of the hip joint, resulting in pain and stiffness.
- Addison’s Disease – lack of production of adrenal hormones that causes vomiting, lethargy and heart problems and possible death.
Since the Toller is a dog bred for retrieving game out of the iciest of water, what appear to be long feathered tresses on the outside is actually a dense layered, water resistant double coat. Upon closer examination, one will see the soft topcoat gives way to a dense undercoat where natural oils from the dog’s body become trapped. This is what creates the coat’s water resistant capability and the Toller’s ability to safely swim in sub freezing water. It is because of this dense undercoat that frequent shampooing is staunchly looked down upon when it comes to this type of breed.
Washing away these natural oils will all but destroy the Toller’s ability to protect itself in colder temperatures. Instead, a regular dry shampooing is recommended with a wet bath used only when necessary. Regular grooming with a stiff bristled dog brush will help keep the coat in its optimum condition. Although the breed tends to shed no more and no less than any other dog, regular grooming will always help minimize the amount of hair a dog deposits about the household.
Good ear health is one of the mainstays of any water loving dog. Since a dog’s L shaped ear canal makes it easy for water to get trapped inside, infections are a common occurrence. To alleviate the risk of infection, a small dollop of alcohol based ear drying gel can be applied to the Toller’s ears and gently massaged in. As the alcohol and gel evaporate, it efficiently dries up any trapped water with it, doing away with the chance for bacteria to grow. This product can easily be obtained from any veterinarian.
The Toller is one that is observant, agile and ready for action. They are also a dog that loves water and will not hesitate to at least indulge in getting their paws wet when given the chance. While they will do just fine if a daily walk gets rained out, long periods of inactivity are not recommended for this breed. One of the best exercises for the Toller is a simple game of fetch. It not only will provide for the much needed interaction between the owner and his or her canine companion, it validates and gives an outlet for the Toller’s strong natural instinct of retrieving.
Regular exercise for the Toller that includes being walked or run through parks, along beaches and in more crowded environments will also help to socialize the breed with new people and places. In addition the Toller is a natural retriever, so making exercise, training and fun time combine into one longer session is an ideal to provide physical and mental exercise for the dog.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is not necessarily a good self-exerciser and is more likely to find a comfortable spot in the yard to relax when let outside on their own. A companion dog can help with the Toller getting some exercise when outside on their own. They will also do great with a family of active children that enjoy involving their pet in their games and activities.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a lot of stamina and endurance and can make excellent jogging or hiking companions. There natural love of water and being outdoors makes them wonderful camping dogs as well.
When it comes to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, training tends to have the same issues as it does with all retrievers. At young ages, Toller’s tend to be easily distracted. For training sessions before the age of two years, the only required elements should be that of brevity and fun. Training periods that turn into drills will result in boredom for this breed, likely turning things into a dreadful ordeal for both the dog and its owner.
From the age of two years on up, there is a development in maturity that allows the Toller to take in and process information more efficiently. This is when many begin true hunting maneuver training for their dog. In cases where Toller’s are used for the retrieval of waterfowl, they will also need to be broken in and conditioned as pups to the loud report of a shotgun blast. This is often done using a gun breaking tape or cap guns, immediately followed by positive reinforcements using rewards and praise.
Socializing, housebreaking and respect training programs that are commonly taught with other dogs work well for Toller’s. Because they are known to be quite independent in mind and energetic when they are younger, it may take extra effort to help them remember to not jump on guests or walk respectfully on a leash. With this breed, consistency will always be the name of the game.
One must make it an area of commitment if the true endeavor is to see results and help their companion live a happier, healthier existence. As with all breeds, training a Toller to do the things it was not meant for can be disastrous. Activities and training that run parallel to its strong hunting instincts are more likely to result in success.