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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The smallest of the retrievers, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is strong, compact and agile. The head is clean and wedged shaped, with high set triangular ears atop a slightly rounded skull. The expression is intelligent and friendly, and according to some, changes from forlorn when inactive to alert and eager when working. The nose is broad and varies in color with the coat, and the jaws form a tight scissors bite. The body is efficiently muscular with a straight topline ending in a considerably feathered tail. Especially powerful hindquarters and webbed feet make this dog an excellent swimmer. The Nova Scotia sports a medium length, water repellent double coat with a soft, thick undercoat; the coat is straight except for on the hindquarters, where it may be slightly wavy. Color can be any shade of red, with white markings on the feet, chest and tail, and a white blaze on the face.

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Fast Facts

12 - 13 years
Nova Scotia (Canada)
19th century
45 - 52 lb
35 - 42 lb
18 - 21"
17 - 20"
Nova Scoshia Duck Toling Retriever, Nova Skosha Duc Tolling Retreiver or Nova Scoatia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Little River Duck Dog

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Temperament

The intelligence, discipline and fortitude required of a tolling dog can largely explain the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s personality....

As befitting a dog trained to play with other dogs for hours on end, the Nova Scotia is immensely energetic, frolicsome and sociable with other dogs. Nova Scotias are also highly obedient and easily trained, excelling at any task their masters demand of them. This dog will instantly warm to children and other pets, and will make friends with strangers after a very brief evaluation. Though this dog is as energetic as a nuclear bomb, owners are often surprised that the dog can easily be taught to be calm and quiet indoors. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers can become stubborn when bored and unchallenged, but generally speaking this is a dog that lives to serve.

Caring For a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Like many other sporting dogs, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever needs lots of exercise and is happiest when that exercise includes swimming or retrieving....

Mental exercise, including games of agility and obedience, is also imperative to keep this dog from becoming bored. The dog is physically capable of living in the backyard, but its constant need for human interaction and affection can only be met if the dog lives indoors with its family. A weekly brushing should keep the coat looking good; bathing requirements vary depending on how often the dog is in the water, which, if left to its own devices, will be a lot – Nova Scotias can’t resist a pool. A very healthy breed, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is generally long lived and disease free, though the breed has been known to develop canine hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy in certain cases.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever History

A Brief History of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has perhaps the most difficult job in the canine world....

The word toll is of Middle English origin, meaning to decoy or lure, and tolling dogs have been used by hunters in Europe and North America since the 17th century. A tolling dog’s job is twofold: first it must play and frolic along the shoreline, sometimes for hours at a time, all the while completely ignoring nearby waterfowl. Eventually, the birds’ attention is piqued by the playing dogs and they come toward the shore to get a closer look. At that point the dogs’ master, who has been hiding nearby the whole time, will take his shot. The tolling dog can now complete the second part of his job by swimming into the water to retrieve the downed fowl. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was first bred in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, during the early 19th century. The dog’s ancestry is uncertain, but it is likely to be the product of crossbreeding between the red European decoy dog and various spaniels, retrievers, setters, and possibly even dogs indigenous to North America. Originally called the Little River Duck Dog, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1945. The breed was introduced to the United States in the 1960s, but was not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2003. While still far from commonplace in the United States, the dog’s quick wit and endless energy have earned it a steadily growing following.