Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized gundog. The breed originated in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, where they were used for tolling and retrieving ducks. Both males and females stand at about 19 inches high, and they weigh around 44 pounds each. This breed’s name is often shortened to Toller, Novie, or Little River Duck Dog. Their expected lifespan is 12 to 14 years, and the female Tollers have 6 to 10 puppies per litter. 

This beautiful floppy-eared Novie is regarded as the smallest of the Retriever dogs. His medium-length coat is feathery and red, copper or golden, with some white markings. Their coats need brushing at least twice per week. Toller dogs are powerful and agile, with a worried facial expression that becomes bright and animated when they work. They love to be active and show their delight by holding their long, feathery tails high.

Tolling is not all these dogs are good at. They also fit the bill as companions for anyone who can match their boundless energy, and they make excellent watchdogs. Toller dogs are smart and easy to train, but they are independent and like to do things their own way. 

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Duck Tollers?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, also known as the Toller, was bred to use when hunting waterfowl. One of the breed’s most valuable traits is known as tolling, which is how the breed earned its name. Nova Scotia Duck Tollers is one of two breeds that act as decoys to lure the prey within gunshot range.

When tolling, the hunter positions himself in a blind and sends the dog out to dance and play along the water’s edge. When curious geese and ducks move in to take a closer look at what is going on, the hunter calls the dog back and shoots. The Novie’s retrieving skills are then tested when he rushes into the water to retrieve the waterfowl hunter’s prey.

This exciting fact sets the Toller dog apart from other Retrievers who only retrieve the hunter’s prey. The Toller actively participates by acting as a decoy, luring the waterfowl closer. This behavior resembles the tricks of the fox, who work in pairs hunting along the water’s edge.

Duck Tolling Retrievers are intelligent and eager to please, and they thrive with a job to do. With enough activity and mental stimulation, the busy Toller can be well-behaved indoors—but if they are bored or haven’t had the opportunity to burn off enough energy, they may be destructive or disobedient. Without enough socialization, they may be wary of strangers and are often reserved when meeting new people, but are incredibly friendly and affectionate with family.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Traits

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Information


Males 18 to 21 inches

Females 17 to 20 inches


Males 44 to 51 pounds

Females 37 to 44 pounds

Relation with family

Intelligent, curious, alert, outgoing, loyal affectionate

Relation with children

Playful and lovable

Relation with other dogs


Shedding level

Low, except seasonal blowing

Drooling level


Coat type 

Double coat

Coat length

The outer coat is medium length

The undercoat is short and dense 

Coat grooming frequency

Weekly brushing

Reaction to strangers


Playfulness level


Adaptability level


Openness to strangers


Trainability level


Energy level


Barking level


Mental stimulation needs level



12 -14 years 

How Does the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Interact with Family?

Curious, playful, and intelligent the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an eager and affectionate gundog and companion animal. This hardworking, playful dog is the smallest of the Retriever. The high-energy sporting breed thrives in a home with an active lifestyle. Hunting, hiking, or playing are favorite activities. They’re rambunctious and lovable companions who do well in dog-experienced families who aren’t opposed to training a strong-willed dog. The Toller is a hard-to-find breed, so it is crucial to ensure the temperament and energy level fit the household before getting your heart set on one.

How Does the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Interact with Other Dogs?

The Toller does well with other dogs, as long as you socialize her early.

However, if your Novie gets a whiff of smaller “prey” that might be nearby, including cats or squirrels, she may pursue them. But, if she chases the family’s cat, your Toller doesn’t mean to do him any harm, and she’s simply enjoying the thrill of the chase, and if they were raised together, the cat might have as much fun.

It would be best if you kept your Toller Dog in a fenced-in yard or on a leash when out for walks to best combat this.

How are Duck Tollers with Older People?

Duck Tollers are excellent companions for older people; however, their energy level might be overwhelming. Duck Tollers need a lot of exercise and grooming. Suppose the senior person lives in an apartment. In that case, space could be a problem because very active dogs could wreak havoc if cooped up with insufficient space. 

However, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers form strong bonds with older people. Hiring a dog walker for those long daily walks can help them spend enough energy to ensure they are calm lapdog companions while in the apartment. Similarly, grooming the Toller might be too much for frail seniors, but arranging for the walker or another person to brush the dog frequently can allow older people to continue living with their beloved furry friends.

How are Duck Tollers with Children?

Duck Tollers tend to love children and are often an excellent match for a household with kids if both child and dog are taught how to interact with each other safely. The Novie loves children and enjoys playing ball with them or using her pulling skills to pull them around in their wagon.

Older kids are recommended, as the Toller can be rambunctious. Parents should always supervise dogs when they’re around young kids. It also helps if you have kids when you get a young Toller Dog to allow the pup to grow up around kids. That way, the dog and the children can learn to respect each other from an early age. 

How are Duck Tollers with Neighbors or Guests?

Duck Tollers, as a breed, are very affectionate, thinking everyone is their friend. They will snuggle up with anyone who is ready for cuddles. Of course, if you’re there, your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will accept anyone you introduce. Neighbors and familiar guests will be welcomed as part of the family. Only unfamiliar people that seem not to belong will make the Novie wary.

What are the Physical Traits of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized breed of gundog bred primarily for hunting. It is the smallest of the Retriever and is often mistaken for a small Golden Retriever.

The Duck Toller displays a rich red water-repellent double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a medium-length overcoat. Moderate feathering is present at the legs and tail. The breed developed from a combination of other hunting breeds, such as spaniels, Retriever, and setters.

Thanks to the Spaniel’s influence, he is shorter in height and lighter in weight than other Retriever breeds. While hunting waterfowl is bred into his genes, the breed is also a confident, happy breed that makes an excellent companion.


Traits information




Males 18 to 21 inches

Females 17 to 20 inches


Males 44 to 51 pounds

Females 37 to 44 pounds

Skull/ Head

Head: Clean-cut and slightly wedge-shaped

Skull: Broad, slightly rounded with medium stop


Almond-shaped, medium-sized.

Color amber to brown, harmonizing with the coat color. 


Slightly erect, triangular, medium size, Well feathered at the back of the fold


Slightly shorter than the length of the skull, tapering smoothly from stop to nose 


Black or a color that blends with coat color



Exercise Needs



12 to 14 years


Water-repellant double coat of medium length and softness, with a softer, dense undercoat.

Coat color

Various shades of red and orange like copper, crimson, golden crimson


Broad at the base, luxuriant, and well feathered, with the last vertebra reaching at least to the hock 


Strong, lean, and muscular with strong, webbed feet


How to Feed a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Your Toller’s adult size determines its dietary needs through all life stages. Thus, base your Toller’s diet on a medium breed’s unique nutritional and digestive needs throughout its different life stages. Most dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large, giant, and even toy breeds. 

It is always a good idea to discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your vet to ensure you are prepared to deal with age-related issues as your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever grows. A veterinarian can advise on diets, portion sizes, meal frequencies, and all nutrition matters to ensure your furry friend lives a long life with optimal health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and some of the essential nutrients are listed below:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Avoid feeding your Troller from the table; all it does is add weight; instead, follow the advice below to ensure your furry friend’s optimal health.

Despite the Toller’s medium size, it is an agile, athletic breed that needs food containing animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. A dog of this size, activity level, and demeanor will thrive best on premium dry food because this food type contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

However, your Toller’s daily portion depends on life stage, health, metabolism, activity level, and of course, the brand and formula of food it eats. Feed your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever food formulated for a medium to large breed with recipes specific for the different life stages like puppies, adults, and seniors, or look for a brand developed for all life stages.

The Toller’s daily cups of food should be spread over 2 to 3 meals per day. Feeding Novies several meals instead of one meal per day can prevent life-threatening bloat. However, fresh drinking water must always be available for your furry friend. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

A premium food specially formulated for Duck Tollers and its benefits are listed below: 

The best dry dog food for Duck Tollers is Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food.

Made with hearty chicken plus Probiotics, Prebiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes, this food is made to care for your dog’s gut to ensure maximum nutrient absorption and immunity. Plus, it contains essential glucosamine to promote the formation and maintenance of strong bones and joints.

Below is a list of the benefits offered by the five Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food recipes in this range:

  • Protein-Packed: With responsibly sourced real meat meal, containing almost 300% more protein than fresh meat, as the first ingredient, these recipes are packed with animal protein for strong, lean muscles in small breed dogs.
  • Omegas 3 and 6: Naturally occurring omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support skin and coat health.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits help support immune health.
  • Probiotics: Guaranteed levels of live, natural probiotics are included to support your dog’s digestive health. 
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin: Included in this recipe to help your adult Toller maintain strong bones and joints.

When Duck Tollers are healthy and active, every day is an adventure. That’s why Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food is crafted with everything dogs need to thrive, starting with real protein as the first ingredient.

How Much Should a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Puppy Eat? 

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies need high-quality puppy food formulated for a medium to large breed. It is essential not to feed puppies all their food at once, and they should have it spread over the day. When Toller puppies become three months old, owners can provide them with three meals per day until they reach six months, reducing the food intake to two meals per day. Only high-quality and branded puppy food is acceptable. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for medium-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Duck Tollers should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times two or three times per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding throughout the day.
  • The exceptions are Duck Tollers with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

What are the Health Tests that Duck Tollers Should Take?

The Toller is a happy, healthy and versatile breed, although no breed or dog is without the possibility of health issues. Responsible breeders consider many factors before pairing dogs, including those that would determine ultimate personality, physical, and social traits. 

However, various genetic and health tests distinguish the responsible, reputable breeders from puppy mills and others who breed random pairs of dogs for financial profits with no regard for their health and life quality.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breeders should have the health tests listed below done.

DNA Tests cover 7 main categories

  • Musculoskeletal and Dental
  • Haemolymphatic
  • Skin and Immune
  • Urogenital
  • Metabolic and Endocrine
  • Ophthalmological
  • Neurological

Other tests and Xrays: Hip and Elbow Evaluation, Patella Check, General Health Check, including Heart, Vaccines, Fleas, and Worms.

What are the common health problems of Duck Tollers?

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever are predisposed to certain health conditions that can be a concern. However, even healthy Duck Tollers should have regular veterinarian checkups. Owners should ensure the following list of health conditions are monitored throughout the dog’s life.

  • Obesity: Duck Tollers love food and love training humans to feed them more. Combine that with how difficult it is for most people to provide a Toller with enough exercise, and it’s an equation for obesity and the health problems it leads to, such as joint issues. The remedy is not overfeeding your pup and keeping their activity level high. Share any weight or diet concerns with your vet.
  • Hip Dysplasia: A common problem in large breeds and older dogs, hip dysplasia, happens in some Tollers. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint isn’t formed correctly and rubs, causing the dog pain. Symptoms include lameness in the back legs, decreased activity, and “bunny hopping.” Veterinarians are well versed in treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, and potentially surgery.
  • Elbow dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as Toller Dog puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the Novie ages.
  • Genetic Eye Conditions that lead to blindness occur in the breed, including progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and cataracts. They are not curable, but they are rare. However, a dog who loses sight can still lead a happy and full life. Always select a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy from a reputable breeder who will screen for these issues in their breeding program.
  • Deafness in dogs can either be a temporary, partial or total loss of hearing, due to a wax build-up in the ear canals, or permanent hearing loss due to a host of causes such as severe, untreated ear infections, congenital defects, old age, and injuries.
  • Cleft palate (and or Lip) occurs when an opening between the mouth and the nose happens when the tissues separating these two cavities do not grow together properly. Purebred dogs have a higher incidence of cleft palate, and brachycephalic breeds, with their short stubby faces, are most commonly affected
  • Addison’s disease in dogs (also called hypoadrenocorticism) occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands aren’t producing adequate levels of corticosteroid hormones. If diagnosed and treated appropriately these dogs can live a long, happy life. The adrenal glands are two small glands next to the kidneys.

You can minimize the chances of serious health concerns in a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever by purchasing a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices and screening for common diseases and conditions.

What are the Exercise Needs of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Duck Tollers require vigorous activity daily because of their natural energy level. Because of the Toller’s activity level and loud bark, these dogs are better suited to houses with yards than to apartments. 

Generally speaking, Tollers should have at least an hour of physical activity per day. Depending on the pet parent-and- dog pair, it can be divided into different activities or lumped into one. However, this breed is versatile and gets bored at times, so being creative is vital. A ten-minute round of tossing the ball, a good walk on a hiking trail for half an hour, and some playtime with the kids can provide what is needed.

Any activity that the family and dog enjoy is good for their exercise. Keep the dog’s love for water in mind, which is characteristic of Retrievers, not to mention they are good at it. Providing water play is a great way to spend time with them doing something that the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will enjoy while bonding.

What are the Nutritional Needs of Duck Tollers?

The nutritional needs of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever are listed below.

  • Protein: Duck Tollers need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids essential for Toller’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts Toller’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adults and senior Duck Tollers need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Duck Tollers sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, that too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: DHA is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies, and DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging Novies by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for promoting strong joints in Duck Tollers are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for a Toller’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Novies.

What is the Shedding Level of Duck Tollers?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever go through two complete coat cycles each year. They have a summer coat and a winter coat. Duck Tollers are double-coated, and these pups shed year-round and “blow” their coats twice yearly in the spring and fall. That means shedding is a significant issue in homes that own this breed. You can temper this issue a little with daily grooming, especially when the new coat grows.

What is the Coat Grooming Frequency of Duck Tollers?

The Toller was bred to retrieve waterfowl from icy waters and they have a water-repellant double coat of medium length and softness, with a softer, dense undercoat. The coat may have a slight wave on the back but is otherwise straight. Some winter coats may form a long, loose curl at the throat. Featherings are soft at the throat, behind the ears, and at the back of the thighs, and forelegs are moderately feathered.

 Brushing two or three times a day will help remove the loose hair. However, during blow seasons when your Toller’s coat prepares for winter and summer you will have to brush every day and make sure you reach through the undercoat. Tollers love to roll in just about anything, the stinkier the better. Fortunately, they love water, and aiming the garden hose at them will make a shower feel like playing a game. 

One positive is that there’s never any need to trim his coat or whiskers, and baths using soaps and shampoos with chemicals will quickly strip their coats of natural oils.

Coat grooming is essential for various reasons, as listed below.

  • Grooming gives your dog a healthy look and promotes hygiene. 
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of skin infections.
  • Grooming promotes the growth and development of a lustrous and shiny coat.
  • Grooming allows you to check for fleas and take early preventive and treatment measures.
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of ear infections since you can check the ears and wipe them dry after grooming regularly.
  • While grooming, you can check the skin folds for any skin problems and alert the vet before they worsen.
  • Grooming boosts the bond between you and your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog.

Your dog should be calm during grooming. Short walks before the grooming session could calm your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever enough to make the grooming process the ideal time for bonding with your furry friend. You can also give your Novies their favorite treats to munch on while you groom them. Grooming must be an enjoyable and stress-free process for your Toller and you. 

What is the Drooling Level of Duck Tollers?

As a Novie owner, you could expect to find a below-average tendency to drool. However, drooling is a natural process, and the primary triggers of drooling are listed below, which, in Tollers, will increase drooling levels. When drooling is excessive, a trip to the vet is recommended.

  • The thought of delicious meals like a favorite treat or meat
  • Mouth and throat problems like fractures in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
  • Plaque build-up can also irritate the mouth and cause excessive saliva.
  • A foreign object stuck in the throat prevents swallowing, thus causing drooling. 
  • Growth in the mouth also stimulates drooling.
  • Stomach upsets.
  • Excessive heat, especially during summer
  • The main symptom of diseases like kidney disease, liver problems, seizures, botulism, and rabies is drooling.
  • Motion sickness and anxiety. Dogs who do not like traveling will get anxious whenever they board a car. A stressed dog pants and breathes with an open mouth, causing it to drool. 
  • Excitement and agitation make dogs drool.
  • Sexual excitement, like when male Duck Tollers spot female Novies in heat, causes drooling. Likewise, a female in her heat cycle might drool if she picks up the scent of a male.

What is the Coat Type of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a thick double coat to keep him warm in the coldest temperatures. The coat is water and dirt-resistant, with a smooth topcoat lying flat upon the soft, dense, and short undercoat.

What is the Coat Lenght of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?  

Novies have a short soft, dense, and woolly undercoat. The overcoat is straight and smooth of medium length, feathering on the underside of the tail.

What are the Color Options of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

When Tollers are born, puppies have black coats. Their outer coats turn gray and silver with black tips while maintaining a light undercoat as they grow and develop. The variations in shade are determined by the quantity of the black tips of the guard hairs.

The adult Toller’s undercoat is clear, light, and silver. The muzzle, ears, and tail tip are black, and the black of the short hairs on the muzzle shades go to lighter gray over the forehead and skull. The coat on the Toller’s legs, stomach, buttocks, chest, the underside of the tail, and harness markings are lighter, without black tips.

What are the Social Traits of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed?

The social traits of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever are affection, playfulness, and friendliness. The Duck Tollers are intelligent and learn fast, but they can be bored with long training sessions. Novies are fun-loving and sensitive enough to have the charm to lighten you up when you are not in a happy mood. Unlike many other dogs, Duck Tollers do not form closer bonds with one family member. Instead, they favor all. However, if your Toller is still a duck hunter, he will likely choose the hunting master as his favorite dog daddy. Other social traits of Duck Tollers are listed below.

  • Elderly-friendly: Duck Tollers love interacting with their family, from children to grandparents. However, they are highly energetic and need between 60 and 90 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. In a multi-generational home, the older family members can share the quiet times with the Tollers while the younger generation deals with playtime and walking or jogging.
  • Children-friendly: Duck Tollers enjoy running around or chasing after children, and playing catch is one of their favorite games. Tollers are sensible enough to care when young children are part of the play. However, supervision is essential in such circumstances. Socialization is vital for kids and dogs.
  • Family-friendly: Duck Tollers are the perfect canine companions for active families. They are not couch potatoes and prefer to spend most of their time outside. Duck Tollers will always be ready to join a family member jogging, skateboarding, cycling, or hiking.
  • Pet-friendly: Duck Tollers can get along great with cats and other animals, especially if they’re raised with them. However, the innate hunting instincts of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever might trigger a chase of trespassing neighborhood cats.

How Do Duck Tollers Interact with Strangers?

Duck Tollers are typically wary of strangers, and they will treat unfamiliar people with suspicion until they are satisfied that their owners are not threatened. Once their owners invite strangers into the home, the Novies will relax. 

However, Duck Tollers are alert even when they don’t seem so. They are always aware of anything that happens around them, and any strangers and potential intruders will be warned to back off. However, it will go no further than one or two barks. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will retreat instead of showing aggression or attack.

Ignoring a dog’s aloofness with strangers can cause them to expound on it as they get older. They may become timid or outright fearful of strangers or perhaps even develop aggression as an overreactive defense mechanism.

Is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Playful?

Duck Tollers are playful with children, adults, and senior citizens and make excellent family dogs. Unlike most medium to large dogs, the Novie instinctively knows to be careful when young children are part of the play. This Little River Duck Dog loves children and enjoys playing ball with them or using its pulling skills to pull the kids around in their wagon.

However, even though this is a character trait of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breed, there are no guarantees that your small child will be safe if left unsupervised to play with the furry family Toller. Having your dog and your children socialized will give peace of mind.

Are Duck Tollers Protective?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are loyal and naturally protective. However, they are not defensive enough to attack intruders. Tollers are not good guard dogs but alert enough to be excellent watchdogs. Tollers have unique barks and sounds that quickly warn their owners of any threats, and alerting their owners of potential threats is the Tollers’ way of being protective.

What is the Adaptability Level of Duck Tollers?

There is much to be praised about modern Tollers and their adaptability. After working as tollers and Retriever for decades and still acting and looking like foxes, Novies have adapted perfectly to lives as companions, playmates, protectors, and sensitive cuddle providers when necessary. Many have adapted well to different sports activities to replace their tolling and retrieving. As long as their families can continue to provide an outlet for the notorious Retriever drive, they will adapt to living in an apartment as happily as on a ranch. 

What are the Personality Traits of Duck Tollers?

The people-loving Toller is friendly to family and other familiar humans like neighbors and frequent guests. They are wary of strangers and will withdraw to avoid them. Tollers are typically unaggressive, but they take their cues from their families in such situations.

They are affectionate and loving with their family, most Tollers like to cuddle after a long day’s work. They are good with children, showing patience. When properly socialized, they are great with other dogs and even cats. If he is brought up with children, the loving and good-natured Toller enjoys their company and can be a good playmate. 

Remember that no dog is automatically good with kids. An adult Toller who is not experienced with children needs time to get used to their quick movements and shrill voices. Teach children never to tease or mistreat a dog. 

Like any dog, never leave a Toller alone with young children, no matter how well he knows them or how gentle he seems. As with every dog, Tollers need early socialization, exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences, when they’re young.

Can Duck Tollers be Aggressive?

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is loyal and affectionate, and he does very well with children and is generally friendly with strangers. Tollers are intelligent and caring with little or no inclination to aggressiveness. However, there is no guarantee, and provocation, neglect, and abuse can lead to aggression. It is important to properly socialize your Toller from puppyhood to various new experiences and dogs.

Can Duck Tollers be Dangerous?

Like any other animal, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will become aggressive if they are scared or have to defend themselves. Tollers’ aggression may manifest as growling or snarling, especially at strangers near their homes. Putting themselves between you and a stranger could lead to dangerous situations.

Do Duck Tollers Ever Attack?

No, there are no reports of Tollers attacking people. However, like people, any dog can show unexpected character traits. Owners of Tollers are advised to have their pups socialized despite the breed information showing them not to be aggressive or inclined to attack.

Can Duck Tollers Kill Humans?

Yes, Duck Tollers can kill humans, but it is highly improbable. Duck Tollers are protective of their human families, and specific circumstances could drive any dog to react aggressively. Events that could cause a violent attack by any breed include

  • Attacks on their human families.
  • Protecting their own safety
  • Mistreatment by their owners like chaining their dogs to poles outside.
  • Owners dishing out physical punishment or other forms of abuse.

Whatever the circumstances, serious provocation must be present to trigger a violent attack by a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

Do Duck Tollers Cope with Being Left Alone?

The Toller is a breed needing regular human companionship. When left alone for too long, he can get a bit destructive. The best way to protect your possessions is to exercise them frequently. The Toller is a clever dog and will learn quickly, but you’ll definitely need to show him you’re the boss. Duck Tollers can live alone for a few hours without any problems, but they are not the kind of canines that you could leave alone for a long time.  If left outdoors alone, they may bark excessively or disappear in search of something interesting to do.

Can I Leave my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever at Home?

Tollers are fiercely loyal, protective, and devoted to their families, preferring companionship over alone time. When they are left in isolation, they typically display signs of separation anxiety. Many Duck Tollers tend to form strong bonds with all their family members. Therefore, even if one family member stays behind when the rest go to school, work, etc., it will likely prevent the Novie from developing separation anxiety. 

Can Duck Tollers be Left Alone for 8 Hours?

Duck Tollers need company, and they do not enjoy spending time alone for many hours and may develop separation anxiety. Don’t get a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever if you must leave him on his own for hours on end. You can, however, leave him alone for short periods. Leaving your Toller alone for more than four hours at a time is not recommended. If there is no other way, getting a dog walker or a sitter for a part of the day could prevent separation anxiety, boredom, and subsequent mischief and destruction.

How to Train a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Those pet parents who undertake training their Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever themselves must know before beginning that they must maintain control all the time. It includes not only control of the training but of themselves. Owers must have a no-nonsense attitude about training and who is in charge, which leaves no room for negotiation. 

However, they must be firm with this training lovingly and gently. Kindness must be a priority since this breed does not respond well to harshness, as no dog should.

Maintaining control to show the pet parent is in control is crucial as Tollers can be strong-willed at times. If they think that the pet parent is not strong enough to be the Alpha male, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will have no problem taking control of the household.

Beyond that, patience is a must, as any training takes time. The pet parent must also be prepared for periodic reviews as we all forget ourselves sometimes, regardless of age and how long ago the training happened.  Below are some tips to ease the process.

  • Praise good behavior by making a fuss. Your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will know if you fake it.
  • Time commands wisely because corrections after the fact will confuse your Toller.
  • Be consistent and persistent. Never let it slip because your Toller dog will learn that obedience is optional.
  • Be the pack leader and show happiness while training your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
  • Making your Novie sit and wait for your command to start eating will confirm your status as pack leader.
  • Training your Toller with love in your heart will prevent you and your canine companion from seeing training as punishment.

How Frequently does a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Bark?

Duck Tollers are calm, naturally protective, intelligent, and loving. And although Novies aren’t known to bark incessantly, they can get quite loud if they detect impending danger. However, boredom and separation anxiety can also cause excessive barking.

The frequency of your Toller’s bark will not likely be enough to upset your neighbors. Most dogs have different-sounding barks for different purposes, and after all, that is the only way canines can have their say. Like most breeds, Tollers do not bark without reason, and observant family members may quickly learn to recognize the different bark types their Novie use for communication.

Below is a list of bark types that owners will learn to recognize. 

  • Duck Tollers hate being left alone, and one way of coping with loneliness is barking. 
  • A lack of exercise and anxiety can also trigger barking.
  • Alarm barking is when your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is barking as a way of alerting you of approaching danger. Alarm barking can save you from danger; however, Tollers may bark before ascertaining that there is a real danger.  
  • Another type of barking is demand barking, where a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever feels entitled to something or your attention and would bark as a way of demanding their rights. This type can be lowered through proper training and ignoring the barking.
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever uses arousal barking to show their frustrations.
  • Boredom barking signals that your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is tired or bored due to being left alone or infrequent exercises. 
  • Frequent barking can be a nuisance to both the owner and neighbors. Some types of barking tend to be monotonous and continuous. 

Even though Duck Tollers are not typically nuisance barkers, knowing their language might come in handy. However, if your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the exception to the rule, below are some positive and negative motivators that might help to change your canine companion’s barking habits.

  • Whenever your Novie starts barking, command him to be quiet and if your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever obeys, reward him with his favorite treat or toy. If he disobeys your command, withdraw some benefits like not giving him his favorite toy.
  • Engage Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in her favorite activity or exercise before you have to run an errand. Tired Tollers might fall asleep while you are out.
  • Look for attractive toys that would keep your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever busy while you are away.
  • Continuous barking without reason might call for a visit to the vet.

What is the need for Mental Stimulation of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Constant stimulation throughout the day is required to keep your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever happy. Brain games are a great and easy way to stimulate his mind, so be sure to rotate a few of these games throughout the week to keep him occupied.

Tollers are smart and learn fast, so they need regular mental stimulation, and their playful and intelligent nature further calls for frequent mental activity. There are different ways of mentally stimulating your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and some of them are listed below.

  • Play with interactive games or toys, including dog puzzles and canine board games.
  • Encourage sniffing during regular evening walks.
  • Provide healthy chews like dehydrated sweet potato strips. Chewing for more extended periods calms the brain, thus lowering stress levels.
  • Hide and seek games
  • Drop and fetch games
  • Regular walks

These mental stimulation techniques should start at an early stage. Duck Tollers who are six years and older tend to have problems with their thinking ability. The primary signs of mental disorientation are listed below.

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Frequent accidents
  • Failure to recall previously learned commands
  • Changes in sleep and wake patterns
  • Low interest in physical activities
  • Poor social skills

What are the Breed Standards of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers?

The Toller is a medium-sized, powerful, compact, balanced, well-muscled dog, medium to heavy in bone, with a high degree of agility, alertness, and determination. Many Tollers have a slightly sad expression until they go to work when their aspect changes to intense concentration and excitement. The Toller has a speeding, rushing action at work, with the head carried out almost level with the back and heavily-feathered tail in constant motion.

Some of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s breed standards are listed below.

Breed Standards 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Information 


Various shades of red and orange like copper, crimson, golden crimson


Duck Tollers are classified as a medium-sized breed

Eye Color 

Amber to brown, harmonizing with the coat color 

Average Weight 

About 47 pounds for males; about 40 pounds for females.

Average Height

Males 20 inches, females 18 inches

Average lifespan 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dogs have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years

What is the General Information about Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

The notion of a “decoy dog” was not born in North America; Europeans had used dogs to lure waterfowl into nets since early Renaissance times. But it was in Nova Scotia, settled by the French in 1604 and wrested away by the English a hundred years later, that the Toller was perfected.

The only other extant breed in the world that specializes in this foxy technique is the Dutch gundog known as the Kooikerhondje, aka Dutch Decoy Spaniel. But tolling is only half the job. The dog also marks the game, swims to the spot, and retrieves the prize in his buttery mouth. A good Toller’s mouth is so soft that sometimes the duck just falls out at your feet; it’s more of a balance than a bite.

Tollers remained a secret of Nova Scotia hunters for years. However, they were eventually recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1945, an occasion marked by the official renaming of the breed from Little River Duck Dogs to their current long-winded moniker. In the 1960s, Tollers made their way down to the states, though the AKC didn’t officially recognize them until the mid-1980s. 

There is much to be praised about modern Tollers, who, while they continue to look and act like foxes, have adapted well to life off the hunting grounds—though many are still active in the sport. Today, Tollers are happy to live the life of a family dog, provided they still have an outlet for their notorious Retriever drive. 

Where to Buy or Adopt a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

A purebred Toller’s price can range between $1,500 and $2,500. Lower prices are generally available within shelters and rescues, but it is a rare breed and puppies can cost as much as $5,000 from top breeders. 

If you want to bring a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever home, you should not rush. The only “purebreds” available upon request are not the real thing and are likely bred on puppy farms. The more realistic way is to put your name on a waiting list, and while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about this very special canine companion. 

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. They are more interested in placing pups in suitable homes than making big bucks. 

Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or make irrational promises to promote the dogs. Be especially suspicious when you are offered a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, making the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a beautiful companion dog.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations for the specific breed, if available. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is recognized by the AKC, UKC and FIC, listed below, along with other registered kennel clubs that might put potential Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever owners in touch with reputable breeders. 

  • Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International)
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Victoria Inc AU
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of America
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Great Britain
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Canada (NSDTRCC)

If you manage to track down Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever breeders, make sure you go to the facility and insist on meeting both the puppies’ parents so that you can get a feel for their temperament. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies are often peppy and playful, all should have cheery expressions and kind eyes. 

It might take some time to find a legitimate breeder, and travel may very well be in the cards. Steer clear of backyard breeding by avoiding sales sites and ad pages. When you select a breeder, make sure they have proof of successful, healthy litters with any documentation necessary.

You might find a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy or a rescued adult to adopt or buy from abroad, but not all countries allow importing adopted dogs. Those whose countries will enable the importation of Duck Tollers may find the logistics challenging. 

Procedures include obtaining certification from a vet to prove the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is fully vaccinated and providing all the additional required veterinary documents before the travel. Furthermore, your country must approve the veterinarian to authorize the importation, and it will be your responsibility to ensure you use the services of a certified vet.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Duck Tollers?

There are millions of homeless dogs worldwide; many are purebreds needing homes. Adopting a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever can be life-changing, not only for the dog but also for the adopter. If you prefer adoption over purchasing a pup from a breeder, then your first stop should be the National Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Rescue website. 

The adoption fee for a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever from a rescue group or animal shelter will probably be between $150 and $200. Most dogs from rescue groups and shelters will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vetted before adoption

You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter and ask if they have any Duck Tollers or related mixes available for adoption. If not, you can always put your name on a list so that when one comes in, you’re the first one they call.

Below is a list of registered rescue centers and kennel clubs to reach out to for guidance.

  • American Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (CCA) Rescue Network
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club NSDTRC(USA)
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Canada (NSDTRCC)
  • Toller Rescue Fund UK
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Victoria Inc AU
  • The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of Great Britain

Facebook is another resource for pet adoption. You can search for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever rescue groups in your region.

You can also search for adoptable Duck Tollers online through reliable websites such as

  • AnimalShelter 

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever rescue group is an excellent idea if you want to adopt an older dog or even a Toller mix.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever mixes for adoption may be less challenging to find in shelters and rescue facilities. If you want to adopt an AKC registered or a mixed breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, the best first step is to contact shelters and breed-specific rescues to let them know you’re interested. 

The most common Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog mixes are listed below.

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever x German Shorthaired Pointer mix = German Shorthair Toller
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever x Golden Retriever mix = Golden Toller Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever x Pit Bull Terrier mix = Toller Pit

Toller mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog’s personality through a series of evaluations; even if the dog’s temperament does not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home. 

What is the History of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

The Micmac Indians of Canada documented the first “tollers.” These tollers were wily foxes who patrolled the shores of rivers and lakes and would then snatch the ducks that came close enough to the shore. The Micmac Indians began encouraging their own dogs to lure the ducks closer in a fashion similar to the foxes. 

Some researchers believe that these dogs are a part of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s ancestry. Hunters in Yarmouth County, located in southwest Nova Scotia’s Little River district, created a dog that could attract ducks and retrieve them from the water. These hunters began mixing hunting and retrieving dogs such as the Golden Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and Irish Setter. 

Some researchers also believe that some farm Collies also found their way into the bloodlines. These resulting dogs were red in color and called Little River Duck Dogs. These dogs were virtually unknown in other parts of Canada until 1945 when the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) officially recognized the breed and renamed him the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. 

The first Tollers to be imported into the United States came in the 1960s but remained unknown until the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of the United States was formed. It was not until 2001 that the American Kennel Club accepted the Toller into its Foundation Stock Service and officially recognized him in 2003 as a member of the Sporting group. 

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Duck Tollers?

The prices of Duck Tollers range between $1,200 and $2,000. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the puppy’s bloodline, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. 

The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price. You will be hard-pressed to find this breed in a shelter, but if you do, the price could be $300 to $500, based on the cost of care provided while keeping the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and extras like vaccinations and sterilizations. 

It is always best to consider annual expenses related to maintaining your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and its wellbeing before making the purchase. The first year will be the most expensive, as puppies require extra vet care and more one-time purchases like microchips, sterilization, licensing, etc. You can expect to spend about $6,900 for your dog’s first year. After that, the price will go down to about $2,100 a year.  

Food and medical only, excluding toys, food and water bowls, cages, doggy blankets, beds, etc., could cost an average of $850. The most regular annual expenses for dogs similar to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever are listed below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet Supplies

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming would likely not affect the maintenance costs of Duck Tollers because they don’t need professional grooming to trim and bathe the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

How to Name a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Choosing a name for your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever involves essential building blocks, including the significance of the sound. The Toller’s name will mean something to the humans in the dog’s life, but for your canine companion, only the sound matters.

 Duck Tollers respond best to two-syllable names that are not short enough to be confused with single-syllable command words like “sit,” stay,” “come,” and “down.” However, the names should not be long enough to become puzzling.

It is always a good idea not to rush into choosing a name. Spend a week or so with your new Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever pup, and its character traits might be all the inspiration you need. 

Call out any name-ideas, using different tones and sounds for the two syllables, and watch your puppy’s reaction to the sound. Remember, you must compose a sound that your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever will recognize from a distance, among many other sounds. 

Choose a name that could sound different in regular interaction and yelling or calling your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Below is a list of suggestions of names inspired by your Toller’s skills and beauty. 

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Names

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Boy Names

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Girl Names


One with hunting skills


Scarlet A brilliant red color with a touch of orange


Swedish name meaning “battle strong”


Means “cheerful” or “spirited”


Latin name meaning “red-haired”


Alanis English name meaning “attractive”


Someone who habitually fools around


A female hunter


Joker Someone fond of joking


Means “spirited” or “lively”


What are the Different Types of Duck Tollers?

The only other existing dog breed in the world that specializes in the foxy technique of tolling is the Dutch gundog known as the Kooikerhondje, aka Dutch Decoy Spaniel.

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Duck Tollers are rare and may be challenging to find, but even if you do, purebreds are expensive and involve long waiting lists. Finding a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever at a rescue center might be equally challenging because they are rare, and even there you might have to put your name on a waiting list. However, as wonderful of a dog as the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever may be, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some dogs that are similar to Duck Tollers.

Below is a list of similar breeds that might be a good match for your family.

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever – It is a larger breed retriever that is friendly and affectionate. They are easy to train and have a great work ethic. more about Chesapeake Bay Retriever Social life care & diet information.
  • American Water Spaniel – Smaller than the other choices, the American Water Spaniel has slightly lower exercise needs, but still needs plenty of activity daily. more about American Water Spaniel Social life care & diet information.
  • Flat-Coated Retriever – Outgoing personality and excellent temperament make the Flat-Coated Retriever a great choice for active families.

Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.