Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog Breed Guide | Gundog Journal
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Main sporting role:
Under 10 years
1 to 2 hours a day
Coat length:
Vulnerable status:

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is the smallest of all the retriever breeds. Originally developed in the 19th century by Canadian hunters to lure ducks and geese within gunshot range, and to retrieve both on land and in water, this dog was bred to look and act like a fox.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Key Characteristics

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a red coat, often with white markings, a bushy tail, a wedge-shaped head, and webbed feet for swimming. It is a compact and athletic dog with an agile and springy gait.

Affectionate, busy and playful, the duck tolling retriever is well suited to active families with children. It generally gets along with other dogs, but tends to be naturally reserved towards strangers. This breed also has a high prey drive towards small animals, and therefore requires early socialisation.

In Britain, the toller is an ideal choice for wildfowling. It can also be found picking up at driven shoots across the country, while some tolling retrievers work as decoy dogs at wetland trusts. Meanwhile, others excel in canine activities like agility and obedience or are used in service roles, making the duck toller an incredibly versatile working breed.

Owning A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Pros And Cons

Pros Of Owning This Retriever

  • A beautiful looking dog thanks to its feathered coat in shades of orange and red
  • Has a very playful nature
  • An agile, quick mover, making it a great gundog out in the field
  • Very obedient
  • Very active and athletic
  • A good family dog - good with children and other dogs
  • Has an average lifespan of around 10 years

Cons Of Owning This Retriever

  • Incredibly energetic - requires a lot of exercise, so best suited to an active, athletic owner
  • Sheds a lot - quite high-maintenance in terms of grooming
  • Prone to whining or barking when excited
  • Can be reserved with strangers
  • Can be strong-willed and very independently minded, so needs a confident owner who can take charge and show who’s boss
  • Can become destructive when bored or left alone, meaning regular play is just as important as regular exercise

Grooming Advice

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is relatively high-maintenance when it comes to grooming requirements, as its feathered coat sheds a lot. As a result, it requires regular brushing and combing to help keep it in the best condition possible. 

You should also aim to clean your retriever’s ears weekly, and brush its teeth at least twice a week.

For more information on looking after different types of working dogs, check out our gundog breed hub, and subscribe to Gundog Journal to stay up to date with the latest advice

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