Golden Red Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog Breed

Other names:
Little Red Duck Dog
Little River Duck Dog
Tolling Retriever
Yarmouth Toller

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is certainly a mouthful to pronounce and they have quite the personality to match. These dogs are high energy, playful, curious and great workers! They also have plenty of affection for the owner or family. NSDTRs gained acclaim for their unique style of waterfowl retrieving called "tolling" and are eager to please hunting companions. Although they may be low maintenance grooming, they need a ton of daily exercise and may not be easily trained by an inexperienced owner. They are great with kids, other pets and athletic individuals but can be reserved around strangers-- although they are not watchdogs or guard dogs. Finally, they are pretty healthy dogs that can live up to 14 years so you may want to consider all the responsibility before choosing this breed!

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Details

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has plenty of interesting facts! For instance, it was first referred to as the Yarmouth Toller or the Little River Duck Dog. They are the smallest of the retrievers and placed in the Sporting Category of the AKC. They also have emit an exited high pitch howl known as the "Toller Scream" instead of barking many times. On to the finer points: the breed is recommended for a hunter or active, outdoorsy and athletic owner or family. They don't do well as an apartment dog and should have a large yard or property to run and play. Consider the benefits and potential problems of the breed detailed below:


  • Excellent retriever
  • Playful yet patient with kids
  • Attention loving and affectionate
  • Good with other pets
  • Not aggressive towards strangers
  • Excellent exercise buddy
  • Can spend time outdoors
  • Easy to groom


  • Needs a LOT of daily exercise and ideally should be a sporting dog
  • Not as easy to train as some breeds
  • Not a watch dog or guard dog
  • Not an apartment dog
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Likely to become destructive around the house if lonely and under-exercised
10 - 14 yrs.
17 - 21 in.
45 - 52 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed Description

This whole page is devoted to giving you the 101 on the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. This breed is a medium sized sporting dog that does what is referred to as "tolling" as part of their retrieving duties. They run and play of the banks of the water with the hunter-- the hunter will throw balls or sticks for them. This draws the curious birds close enough for the hunter to take their shot and the NSDTR retrieves the kill. Overall, these dogs are very energetic, playful, affectionate and eager to please while on the job! Here we will give you a brief summary on some info about the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever's temperament, intelligence, and exercise needs.

Intelligence- This breed is smart but not exactly a joy to train. They can be stubborn and easily distracted, making it necessary to have a firm, patient owner that can offer them plenty of praise. They can be mouthy as puppies and will need early training not to mouth, bite or nip people.

Kids, Strangers, Pets- Members of this breed are affectionate, patient and very playful with kids! If your child can outlast a Duck Tolling Retriever, experts would be surprised. They are not watch dogs or guard dogs but may remain reserved around strangers-- especially at first. With socialization this is a great breed to be part of a multi-pet household!

Exercise- Ideally, these dogs should be sporting dogs but will also thrive with an athletic, outdoorsy owner. They need a couple hours exercise each day and having a fenced yard or large property is idea. They also enjoy games like fetch. Be warned, an under exercised Nova Scotia will be destructive around the house.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Breed History

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever history is well documented-- save for the exact origins of the breed. It is speculated that the Dutch Kooiderhondje (also a tolling dog) and the St. John's Water Dog are two ancestors, however, may breeds are said to make up the modern NSDTR including: retrievers, collies, setters and spaniels.

The breed's beginnings are in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia (Canada)-- specifically in the Little River Harbor area during the early 1800s. In fact, the breed was first referred to as the Yarmouth Toller and Little River Duck Dog. Hunters had been documented as early as the late 1600s using dogs to toll waterfowl. This involved letting the dog run and play, throwing sticks and balls for it along the coast; the curious ducks would come closer and become easy prey for the hunters-- then the dog would retrieve the game.

The breed was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1945 then, ten years later, they became the official dog of the Nova Scotia province. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of America was founded in 1984 but the breed would not be recognized by the AKC until 2003. The breed remains relatively rare.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Temperament

The Nova Scotia Retriever temperament is best summed up as busy and happy. They are in perpetual motion and are always ready to work or play. Retrieving water fowl may be where they excel but they absolutely love a good game of fetch and will readily come to you if they want to play. With their owner or family they are eager to please and affectionate, however, they can be difficult to train. They require a firm owner that can be patient and offer a lot of praise.

Duck Tolling Retriever characteristics such as happy, fun loving, affectionate and energetic make them excellent family companions. They are patient with children and never turn down playtime; puppies can be mouthy, however, and biting behaviors should be curbed from the beginning. Members of this breed are even good with other pets-- if socialized well the odds are best, of course. They may be reserved around strangers at first but warm up eventually and are not aggressive. They are not watch dogs or guard dogs and don't bark frequently.

One last extremely important detail is that this breed must be kept busy with work, training or games. Their personality can take quite the turn into nuisance if they are bored or lonely. You may come back to find you couch torn apart or garbage strewn across the floor. If you have to be away for long hours with work you may want to consider leaving them in a large fenced yard.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Health

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a fairly healthy breed with fewer than average health issues. The lifespan is usually between 10-14 years, some experts say 11-13 years. Here are the most common issues in the breed:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Eye Disease such as Collie Eye Anomaly and Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Immune system disorders like Addison's Disease and autoimmune Thyroiditis.
  • Cleft Palate

The best way to ensure a healthy Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy is to do thorough research to find a reputable breeder that can offer proof of the parents health through testing certificates. Always attend routine veterinary visits as well.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.

Addison's disease
Hip dysplasia
Progressive retinal atrophy
Cleft palate
Collie eye anomaly
Autoimmune thyroiditis

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:February 22, 2018