Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Kids Book


The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever looks somewhat like a small Golden Retriever. It is a well-muscled dog that is medium to heavy boned. It has a deep chest that is well-insulated for swimming in cold water. The coat is dense, and comes in various shades of red and orange. It usually has small white markings on the feet, chest, tail tip and sometimes face and may have a slight wave on its back, but the coat is otherwise straight. The ears are triangular and set high and are well back from the skull. The head is clean-cut and slightly wedge-shaped. The powerful, compact, well-muscled body is on sturdy, solid legs.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby in the Garden - August 2009


Duck tollers are sensible and very devoted to their family. These dogs are intelligent, easy to obedience train and good with children. They make great companion dogs as long as they get enough exercise to fulfill their energetic needs. The duck toller is hard-working and clever, and enjoys being with his master. His expression may seem calm and even-keeled, but once in the hunt he is very energetic. The Toller’s strong retrieving desire and playfulness are natural traits, both necessary for his tolling ability. Tolling (luring) is a natural trait (like pointing) and cannot be taught.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Racing Renae

They have an intense natural excitement about their duty. Young dogs need to practice; training sessions involve establishing a close relationship and having children throw things for them to retrieve. They love retrieving games! These are excellent family pets which get on well with other dogs and animals. They are very patient with children. They need owners who know how to properly communicate authority over them.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Racing  Renae2


Height:  16-23 inches, Weight: 30-55 pounds

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine and Luna Larkspur

Health and Living Conditions

This is a healthy working breed that is increasing in popularity. Duck Tollers will accommodate to living in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. They do well in cold climates.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine and Luna


These high energy dogs need a lot of physical exercise. They can be taken on a brisk, long, daily walk or jog. It is important for the dog to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead. Other excellent activites which provide good exercise are playing fetch (the dogs will sprint very fast) and swimming (this can include retrieving).

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine on Bridge


The water-repellent, double coat of the Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever should be combed and brushed with a firm bristle brush, paying particular attention to the dense undercoat. Bathe only when necessary since it removes the natural oils in the skin which make it naturally water resistant. This breed is an average shedder, some shed more than others.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine


The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever originates from Canada. It was developed to toll (lure) ducks in the manner of the fox. The clever manner in which foxes work together to obtain a duck dinner has been observed over the centuries. The Toller’s rather unusual job is to lure ducks and geese within shotgun range, and to retrieve them from the water after they have been hit. From a concealed blind near the shore, the hunter tosses a stick parallel to the shore, and with great liveliness the Toller retrievers it. It may take a dozen or more throws before the ducks or geese become curious and approach the shore. When the overly inquisitive ducks are within shooting range, the hunter calls his dog back to the blind, stands up to put the birds to flight, and shoots. The Toller then acts as an efficient retriever.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Luna and Abby at the Lake

There is no authentic record of the development of the Toller, but present day thinking is that the basic stock was the red decoy dog, probably brought to Nova Scotia with the early settlers from Europe. Crosses with other breeds, possibly spaniel and setter-type dogs, retriever-type dogs, and farm collie, produced today’s Toller. Originally known as the Little River Duck Dog after the district of Yarmouth County, or as a Yarmouth Toller, the Toller has now bred true for generations.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Luna and Abby


The expression is alert, friendly, and intelligent. Many Tollers have a slightly sad expression until they go to work, when their aspect changes to intense concentration and desire.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers - Abby and Luna Swimming

If you are considering purchasing a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy, learn more here.

  • Sporting Group; AKC recognized in 2003.
  • Lifespan 12-14 years
  • Water dog.

© The American Kennel Club, Inc.

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