Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 9, 2009

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the smallest of the retrievers. Originally bred in the southern region of Nova Scotia to toll, lure, and retrieve waterfowl by playing on-shore, it is also capable playful games of fetch with a stick or ball.

Physical Characteristics

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is physically strong and small in size. It possesses a water-repelling double coat that is medium in length and red in color. Its tail, which is constantly wagging, is long and furry. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever also has a white color on its chest, feet and tail tip, and strong jaws.

Personality and Temperament

This retriever is quick in its response, playful, with a pleasing and calm personality. However, it may become impatient and restless if it is bored.

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is friendly towards other pets and children. Though it is reserved around strangers, it adapts to them relatively quickly. Always active, it enjoys swimming and running for long periods of time.


The grooming requirements for the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is fairly easy: a weekly combing. It is important that the dog receives plenty of exercise and access to water, if possible, as it loves to swim. It also enjoys retrieving objects.

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever prefers to live indoors with its human companions, but it is adaptable to various climatic conditions and can survive outdoors.


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years, is not prone to any major health concerns; however it may suffer from minor issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). To identify these issues, a veterinarian may recommend hip and eye exams for the dog.

History and Background

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog is assumed to be the product of a cross-breeding between the red European decoy dog and farm collies, setters, retriever dogs, or spaniels. Originally bred in Yarmouth County, which is located at the southern tip of Nova Scotia, it was officially recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1915.

The ancestors to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever were first used by European hunters to lure ducks to the shore. These dogs would wag their tails, drawing the attention of the ducks. As the birds came to shore, the hunters shot them and the dogs helped by retrieving the kill.

The breed would later be brought to the New World, used everywhere from the Chesapeake Bay to the Canadian Maritimes. Because most were bred in Nova Scotia, the name of Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was given to them. However, they have been also known as the Yarmouth Tollers or Little River Duck Dogs.

Hunters began to use the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in the 1960s. The first American club for the breed, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club, was founded in 1984.

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