Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the smallest of all six Retriever breeds. In earlier times it was called the Little River Duck Dog. Nowadays some people call this breed Duck Toller, others Toller or Nova Scotia, for us as fancier and holder of this breed since 20 years it is simply Toller.

When people see this lovely dog the very first time they tend to ask “Oh, what mix is this?” But when they see two of them or even more at the same time they never ask that. “What lovely dogs you have, which breed is it?” The next question mark in their faces comes up when you say the long name: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

Tollers are medium-sized red dogs with or without white markings. This very lively, sensible and alert working dog needs a true and active task in his life in order to develop into a happy and healthy dog. Otherwise it will tend to be either unsteady or hyperactive. An adequate and well structured training, beginning in short terms for a young dog, later widening in range and offer for older dogs, is a must in keeping Tollers. Never forget the origin of this dog. It had to work in difficult areas on land and water, never tired of luring game and retrieving.

Tollers are extremely beautiful in coat, colour and overall impression, speedy, playful, very devoted to their family, sometimes a little shy towards strangers, always eager to work with you, if you know how to “crack” their code. Not really dogs for “beginners”, as they show frustration and stress openly, which isn’t understood by those, who don`t know much about dogs. Dull exercises and many repetitions bore them and you will soon get to know the so called “I know what you want, but I have done it for you already, so why do it again” tactic.

People who like a normal family dog without offering a proper training, exercises and mental tasks should not buy a Toller. A Toller is a working dog.

male with duck

Water work

Nowadays many tests are offered for Tollers, varying from country to country, from club to club. You can do dummy tests or hunt tests, tolling tests or working test, but also other activities are very well accepted by Tollers like tracking, man trailing, rescue dog training, agility, obedience and much more.

And never forget, that a Toller needs a lot of care and sleep to regain strength and relax.

Breeding Tollers is a bit like opening a box of pralines, you open it and you find quite a variety, some have dark pigment, some flesh coloured pigment, some have white markings, some don`t, some look a little like Salukis, high on heel, some more like Teckel, very low on heel.

  • brown_in_coatbrown_in_coat
  • flesh_coloured_pigmentflesh_coloured_pigment
  • pup-dark-pigmentpup-dark-pigment
  • pup-flesh-colour-pigmentpup-flesh-colour-pigment

1.brown in coat
2.flesh coloured pigment
3.pup dark pigment
4.pup-flesh coloured pigment

But having a closer look at the breed standard some aspects are to be considered. When you see this dog you should immediately recognize it as a Toller.

First sight: medium sized, red, shining coat, speedy in motion, alert, playful and intense.

It is not wished to have too heavy or too big Tollers, which look more like a caricature of this breed. Too heavy means that the Toller can`t work in difficult areas for a longer time, it gets tired too early.

Lacking bones and body is not wished, either. These dogs need a sound construction to work. Tollers have a lot of go, they move with style and drive.

Head studies:

  • head_study-1head_study-1
  • head_study-2head_study-2
  • head_study_3head_study_3
  • head_study_4head_study_4
  • head_study_6head_study_6


The head studies show different types of head, but all are excellent ones.

Each breeder tries to do his best in coming close to the breed standard, you should try to breed healthy, typical Tollers and find owners who are worth this dog, which is not an easy job at all.

If you fall for this breed you do it for a lifetime.

The other pictures show my Tollers in action. Picture 1 gives you an idea about a bitch of champion quality, excellently built and showing all white markings.

bitch of champion qualityPicture 1

Picture 2 shows a litter with different colours, a deep red, a puppy with a “widows peak” and brown in coat which will grow out later, and a pup with a very light colour.

picture 3 pups of different colourPicture 2

At the age of about 18 months all of them will have their final coat colour.

Picture 3 shows you some Tollers which are a little lacking bones but otherwise of nice type as well.

Types of TollersPicture 3

Gabi Orrù

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