It’s hard not to wonder what tolling means whenever the name Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever comes up. The term actually comes from a Middle English word tollen, which means “to entice”. Combine it with retriever and it’s pretty clear what this breed of hunting dogs can do — to entice and then retrieve. What they do is play at the water’s edge, attracting birds to swim close to the shore. This gives the hunter plenty of opportunity to take aim and shoot. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or toller, then ends the play by retrieving the downed game. Pretty impressive, right?
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was a mix of MicMac Indian dogs and other gun dog breeds, such as Irish Setters, Cocker Spaniels and even farm collies. It used to be called the Little River Duck Dog until in 1945, when the Canadian Kennel Club gave it the name it is known now. Tollers are made to attract and retrieve waterfowls, which is why they have a water-repellant coat. Unlike the Golden Retriever, their coats have an extra layer that makes them capable of retrieving game even in cold waters. How the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever hunts can be likened to watching a theatrical play where the entire process has a well-though out plan. While tollers lure waterfowls, the hunter hides in a blind. When enough game is gathered, he then calls the toller back to the blind. As he rises from his hiding place, the birds take flight, making it easy for him to start shooting.
Despite being constantly mistaken as a small Golden Retriever, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are quite different hunting dogs. Although they have a happy nature, they’re very strong willed, which makes training them quite a challenge. They must not be allowed to take control of a household and should be guided by someone consistent, firm and fair. Their intelligence and inventiveness must be channeled to other activities, so they don’t end up destructive. Generally, they respond well to lots of praise and treats, which is why these should be incorporated to the training methods used. Avoid using harsh words, as these hunting dogs tend to be very sensitive about them. During training, a trainer should stay calm, firm and consistent.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are a medium-sized gun dog that is often mistaken for a small Golden Retriever. The males generally stand up to 21″ and weigh up to 50lbs, while the females stand up to 18″ and weigh up to 45lbs. They have a medium-length coat that has a softer, denser undercoat, and comes in varying colors of red or orange..
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are very smart, alert, outgoing and are always ready for action. They prefer to be engaged in some kind of activity for the most part. Because of their good natured attitude and patience, they’re just as great as a family dog as they are hunting dogs. They love to play outdoors, but have the tendency to see other animals as prey, which is why proper training is required of this gun dog breed.