The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, affectionately referred to as a Toller, is the smallest of all the retrievers. Intelligent, affectionate, and possessing boundless energy, the Toller is ranked 83rd out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, sometimes called the “Decoy Dog,” got its start in the 1800s in the Little River district of Yarmouth County in Nova Scotia. Alternate breed names at the time were “The Yarmouth Toller” and “Little River Duck Dog.” The Toller was created to play a very unique, ingenious role – their behavior is designed to mimic a curious fox. Their color, size, speed, and curious nature make them seem like a fox which, for whatever reason, piques the interest of nearby ducks. The ducks come nearer and make easy targets for a hunter’s rifle.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER
Here is some additional information about the appearance and temperament of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.
Tollers are, as previously mentioned, the smallest of the retrievers; they are a medium-sized dog, reaching 18 to 21 inches in height and up to 50 pounds in weight. They are smaller and more compact, making for a more powerful, agile dog. Their trademark is their coat, which can be found in colors ranging from golden red to a coppery dark color, sometimes with white spots and markings. Their alert, almond-shaped eyes give them a keen look – unless they are not working. When not working, Tollers often have a sad, worried expression. One telling sign of a happy Toller is their tail – when they’re working, they always hold their tail nice and high and move them constantly.
Their coats are medium length and should be brushed weekly to keep them looking their best. During shedding season, brushing should be increased – daily brushing is not abnormal. The excessive shedding can be frustrating, so be sure to have a strong vacuum on hand to keep your floors clean. Their coat around and under their ears is finer and especially prone to knotting, so extra care should be paid to that area. Bathe as needed; brush teeth and trim nails weekly to prevent discomfort.
Nova Scotia Duck Toller Retrievers are upbeat, outgoing dogs that require plenty of exercise and activities. They are intelligent, affectionate and versatile, but the most important thing is that they go to a family willing to support their activity level. If you prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, these red whirling dervishes may not be the best choice for you.
Since the Toller was bred to retrieve, they are most at home when retrieving, whether it’s hunting or playing fetch. One throw is never enough for your toller. One hundred might not even be enough! They are tireless and playful. Tollers are alert, but not hyperactive, making them decent watchdogs; they take their cues from their owners, so if you are friendly with strangers, your Toller will do the same. They are often great with other pets and older children; however, they can be too rambunctious for younger children. Like other breeds, they do best when raised with other pets and children from an early age.
As they mature, Tollers become much gentler. They are highly adaptable and don’t mind moving from one place to another. Aggression is not typical but can be seen if the dog is not socialized and trained properly. They tend to only bark when they sense danger. They have, on average, a lifespan of 12 to 14 years; establish yourself as a leader and train them early to have a well-mannered member of your family for many years.
CARING FOR A NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, as with every breed, has its own intricacies. Follow these instructions regarding their nutrition, exercise, training, and health needs to ensure a happy, healthy life.
Tollers, as with most breeds, tend to do well with high-quality dry dog foods. Feed them twice daily, rather than leaving food out all day, to help curb obesity problems. Additionally, try to avoid feeding table scraps and be careful not to dole out too many treats when training. Be sure to use age-appropriate dog foods (puppy, adult, and senior). Be sure to consult with your vet to find the best food for your dog. Remember that this is a fast, active breed, and active breeds often require more food than inactive breeds.
Tollers have medium to high energy levels, and they are most at home when they are retrieving or performing some sort of task. Brisk walks, games of fetch, and even higher-intensity activities such as jogs, hikes, and swims are great ways to get your dog a physical and mental workout. Tollers love working and interacting with their owners as well, so activities such as flyball, agility, fieldwork, and other canine sports are an excellent way to utilize their energy. Participating in canine sports is also a great way to strengthen your bond with your Toller, so we can’t recommend them enough. If Tollers don’t get the exercise they need, they will spend their energy in less constructive ways, like chewing and digging, so be sure to tire them out daily!
Different from many of the personality traits of other retrievers, Tollers are often an interesting mix of stubborn and soft. As such, they can occasionally be difficult to train. Start them out early in puppy and obedience classes to set them up for lifelong success with training. They respond particularly well to reward-based training, and since they are energetic and fun-loving, training sessions should be kept short and stimulating. Be firm, but gentle: you don’t want to be too harsh, or you may find you have an even more stubborn dog than before.
Tollers are a generally healthy breed, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. They are susceptible to the same genetic conditions as many other breeds, so make sure to work with a reputable breeder who screens for all the usual eye conditions, hip dysplasia, etc. They can be more prone than other dogs to autoimmune diseases, so be sure to understand the signs and symptoms. They also are prone to Addison’s disease, which often doesn’t show any signs until middle age, so be sure to learn the signs of that as well.