Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Size & Temperament

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As a small retriever, the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, or toller dog, will spend hours chasing balls and catching frisbees with your family. The dogs were bred by 19th-century sportsmen to mimic the behavior of foxes and draw in curious ducks within range for hunters. The breed has also been referred to as decoy dog, Yarmouth toller, and little river duck dog. While the toller dog is an affectionate and friendly family dog, she is not suitable for apartment living or for owners who don't have time to give her the exercise she needs.

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Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever characteristics

The American Kennel Club classifies the toller dog as a part of the sporting group. They are small retrievers, weighing just 35 to 50 pounds. Males grow 18 to 21 inches tall and females are slightly smaller, growing 17 to 20 inches tall.

The toller dog has a compact body and almond-shaped eyes. She has a medium-length red coat with white markings. The fur is mostly straight but some wavy fur on the back or throat is acceptable. Since the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is bred to retrieve ducks from the water, she has a water-repellent double coat. The dog has some feathers on the back of the legs.


Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever temperament & training

Breed is not a reliable indicator of personality, however, the toller dog is known for being friendly and affectionate. They are also very intelligent and need a lot of activity and engagement to stay happy.

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Since they are curious and eager to please, training can be a fun experience for both dog and handler. Keep training sessions short. Set clear boundaries and offer plenty of rewards and praise for desired behaviors.


Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever grooming

The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever sheds seasonally and will need to be brushed daily when she is shedding. The rest of the year, she only needs to be brushed about once per week. Take care to check for and comb out knots around the ears. Bathe the toller dog as needed.

This breed does not need a professional haircut, but you may want to trim the fur on her feet, especially if she starts slipping on the hard floors in your house. Trim her nails as needed, which is usually once per week.


Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever exercise & health

The Nova Scotia retriever is a high-energy dog that needs a lot of exercise and activity. Walk her for at least 30 minutes each day and spend some time playing fetch. Some dogs may need additional exercise. Consider participating in canine sports such as flyball or agility. This is not only another great outlet for her energy, it is also a great way to bond with your dog and meet other dog lovers.

Tollers have a few genetic conditions that may be a concern. They are prone to autoimmune disease and middle-aged dogs may develop Addison's disease. The recommended health tests for the breed include a hip evaluation, eye exam, and cardiac exam. They should also have DNA testing for juvenile Addison's disease and PRA, or progressive retinal atrophy. The average lifespan of the toller dog is 12 to 14 years.


Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever puppies

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A Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever puppy typically reaches her full height when she is eight to nine months old. The toller puppy will continue to grow at a slower rate and reach her adult weight when she is about a year old. Although she will be at her full size at 12 months of age, she is still an adolescent and won't reach adulthood until about 18 months of age.