Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are beautiful, smart, medium-sized dogs. Commonly known as “Tollers”, they are still a fairly rare breed so this may be the first time you’ve heard of them. Tollers get their name because of their ability to lure waterfowl within gunshot range. They are the smallest of the retrievers and require hours of exercise every week (at least an hour a day is a reasonable goal.) This is a breed who will go hunting with you, running with you, be excellent with your kids, play fetch for hours, and after all that, want to live in the house and be a part of your family.
Tollers come in varying shades of red and orange only. They typically have some white markings, such as white feet, chest and sometimes on the face. It is considered highly desirable for the dog to have a white tail tip, as this helps with tolling, or luring, in waterfowl.
“The toller was developed in rugged Nova Scotia by early Scottish immigrants, a hardy people who were scratching out a difficult living, struggling to survive in a strange new land. They developed the toller as a “hunter’s dog,” that is, a breed that does most of what the owner wants done naturally, with very little formal training beyond basic obedience.
To this day, the toller is more a hunter’s dog than a trainer’s dog. He does most of what the generalist hunter needs quite naturally. He has an almost insane desire to retrieve and will do it over and over and over without appearing to tire. This seemingly inexhaustible energy was necessary for tolling ducks all day back before bag limits. Happily, this same endurance comes in handy today when hunting to the gun in the uplands.”
The breeders who have strived so hard to protect the breed and keep the working abilities strong hope the new people drawn to the breed will be careful in their search for a breeder, and keep health and working instinct foremost on their list of requirements. While appealing in appearance and size, the Toller is not for everyone, and is happiest in an active home. See the top 10 reasons not to get a Toller, talk to breed experts, and meet the breed before you decide the breed is right for you.