Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
A medium sized dog, with a red golden and white coat, that feathers around the head and neck, small ears that flop over and a bushy tail, sits alert on an agility obstacle, wearing a bright red harness attached to a loose lead.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

3 August 2023

Let’s talk about… Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers: what are they?

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, often referred to as Tollers, are a medium-sized and versatile breed originating from Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • They were primarily bred for hunting waterfowl, particularly ducks.
  • Tollers are known for their striking appearance, with a beautiful red or orange coat, white markings, and a plume-like tail.
  • On average, Tollers stand between 48 to 51 cm in height and weigh around 17 to 23 kg.
  • Their life expectancy is typically between 12 and 14 years.
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever  Exercise Needs 3/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers like?

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have a friendly, outgoing, and intelligent temperament.
  • They are known for their joyful and playful nature, always ready for adventure and activity.
  • Tollers are highly affectionate and loyal to their families.
  • They tend to be good with children and can get along well with other pets when properly socialised.
  • Although initially reserved with strangers, they warm up quickly and can be quite sociable.
  • Tollers have an innate love for water and retrieving, which makes them excellent companions for outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, and playing fetch.
Hollie, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

How much exercise do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers need?

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are an active and energetic breed that requires a significant amount of exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
  • On average, they need at least 1 hour of exercise per day.
  • This can include activities such as brisk walks, jogging, swimming, and interactive play sessions.
  • Tollers excel in various dog sports like agility, obedience, and flyball, which provide them with both mental and physical challenges.
  • It's important to note that individual exercise needs may vary based on age, health, and energy levels.
  • Toller puppies have plenty of energy and should have appropriate outlets for exercise.
  • However, it's important to consider their age and physical limitations.
  • For puppies under 6 months old, shorter and frequent play sessions are recommended.
  • As they grow older and their bodies develop, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of their exercise but it's crucial to avoid excessive strain on their developing joints and bones.
  • Consult with your vet for specific exercise guidelines based on your puppy's age and overall health.
Loki, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers need a lot of grooming?

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have a dense, water-repellent double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition.
  • Their coats come in various shades of red or orange, often with white markings on the chest, paws, and tail tip.
  • Tollers shed moderately throughout the year and more heavily during seasonal shedding periods.
  • Regular brushing, ideally a few times a week, helps to remove loose hair and prevent matting.
  • They may also benefit from occasional bathing to keep their coat clean and fresh.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Willow, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers easy to train?

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them generally easy to train.
  • They thrive in training environments that are positive, reward-based, and consistent.
  • Tollers have a natural inclination for retrieving, making them quick learners in activities such as fetch and obedience training.
  • They respond well to praise, treats, and play as motivation.
  • Early socialisation and puppy training classes are highly recommended to ensure they develop into well-behaved and well-adjusted dogs.
  • Tollers enjoy mental challenges and can excel in advanced training and dog sports.
  • Keeping training sessions interesting and varied will help prevent boredom and maintain their focus.
  • With patience, positive reinforcement, and a firm but gentle approach, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers can become obedient and well-trained companions.
Woody, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

What do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers eat?

  • Feeding your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for their overall health and well-being.
  • Provide them with high-quality dog food that is suitable for their age, size, and activity level.
  • It's recommended to feed them twice a day, following the feeding guidelines provided by the specific brand of dog food you choose.
  • Monitor their weight and adjust the portion sizes accordingly to prevent obesity, as Tollers can have a tendency to gain weight if overfed.
  • Puppies should be fed a specially formulated puppy food 3-4 times a day until they are 6 months when this same food can be given but reduced to twice daily.
  • At around 12 months of age you can transition them to adult dog food.
  • Consult with your vet for specific dietary recommendations based on your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever's needs.

Are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers healthy?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are generally a healthy breed. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Some health concerns that can affect Tollers include:

Body Weight

  • Obesity - Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation leading to secondary health concerns

Bones and Joints

  • Elbow Dysplasia - this condition is where there is an issue with how the bones fit together at the elbow joint
  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis
  • Luxating patella - this is when a dog’s kneecap moves out of where it should normally be


  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): A hereditary eye condition that can lead to visual impairment or blindness
  • Distichiasis - when extra hairs grow on the inside of the eyelid and rub on the surface of the eye
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - over time the back of the eye becomes damaged which can reduce your dog’s vision, eventually leading to blindness


  • Addison’s Disease (hypoadrenocorticism) - a condition where your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough of a couple of necessary hormones from their adrenal glands


  • Epilepsy - A condition of the brain that causes dogs to have fits

This list is by no means comprehensive, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Toller is right for you, consult with your vet.

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

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