Commonly known as "Tollers", the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever resembles a Golden Retriever in its smaller, strong, compact and balanced build, but his coat is closer to the red of the Irish Setter. In general the males are of a medium build, but females can be slightly smaller. The breed's head narrows towards the nose, and the ears give him the appearance of being triangular. He has a long body for his size, sturdy legs, and a long tail that sweeps up in a slight curve. He has a deep chest and a wide ribcage. The breed has the temperament and even white markings on it head and feet that made it a great gun and hunting dog. This is how he got his name, as tolling is luring game, namely ducks, to a place where the hunter can shoot them.
The coat is a double coat that contains natural oils which keep the fur water proof and protects the dog in cold water. The outer coat is wavy and coarse, while the inner layer is dense, thick and soft. The hair is usually wavy on the back and neck and straight on the remainder of the dog's body.
The dog is either red or orange in color. He has white markings on his chest, his feet, and his face, and also on the tip of his tail.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever is named for a part of Canada, though he is thought to have originated in Belgium in the 1600s. The breed came to Britain and then to Nova Scotia. The dogs were bred to look and act like foxes, though theories that they are directly descended from foxes is untrue. The breed is actually a cross breed of retrievers and working spaniels.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a good companion for hunters; his personality is alert and patient. He is a good family dog, and is a good watchdog, but not a good guard dog. The breed is good with children and likes to play and is very gentle. As a hunting dog he is attentive and aware. The Toller loves to please his master so he can be trained fairly easily. Retriever training exercises work best with the dog's nature. They are retrievers by nature, so they are good at playing fetch games with the family if they are not used as hunting dogs.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have some of the same health issues that other purebred dogs of their size have. Hip dysplasia and heartworms are common. Some other health problems for this breed are thyroid problems, progressive retinal atrophy – an eye problem that can lead to blindness – and Addison's Disease. Addison's Disease is an abnormality in the adrenal glands that makes them not produce hormones.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever has a thick double coat. This coat of fur protects the dog when he is swimming and allows him to stay warm and relatively dry close to his skin when he is retrieving game from the water. There are natural oils in the dog's fur that keeps his coat water proof, so frequent baths are not needed. It is best to use a dry dog shampoo unless the dog absolutely must be bathed. Regular grooming with a stiff brush will keep the dog's shedding to a minimum. He does not, as a rule, shed more than average. Because the breed is a water loving animal, it is important to keep his ears clean. The dog's ear shape can trap water, so be sure to ask a veterinarian how to best avoid infections in the dog's ears.
being an agile gundog, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a dog that needs exercise. He prefers water and will usually swim if given the opportunity. They need to be walked every day, especially if they live in an apartment setting. The dog needs both physical and mental exercise, so games or training sessions are ideal. They enjoy interacting with their families and like to play fetch games in the yard. This not only lets the dog get exercise, it allows him to indulge his retriever instincts. He does need interaction to exercise, as he is not the type of dog that will run around on his own. His stamina makes him an excellent companion for long walks, hikes and jogs. They do very well outdoors, and you can even take them camping with the family.
All young retrievers have a hard time focusing on their training sessions, and this is no less true with the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. In the first two years of the dog's life, use fun and short training sessions. He is able to process training commands more completely after the age of two, so this is the time to begin hunting training. However, the dog should be trained to not be excited or scared at the sound of a gunshot from the time he is a puppy. Positive reinforcements work best for this breed. The breed does well in puppy classes, as this promotes socialization. Leash training is important for the dog, especially at a young age, so he does not jump on people.