Breed of the Week: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 05/02/16

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever 4

Breed Stats

Country of Origin: Canada

Other Names: Yarmouth Toller, Tolling Retriever

Average Height: Males 19-20 Inches (48-51 cm), Females 18-19 inches (45-48 cm)

Average Weight: Males 44-51 lb (20-23 kg), Females 37-44lb (17-20 kg)

Average Lifespan: 12-14 years

Coat: Double coat with a medium length, water resistant overcoat and a dense, soft undercoat.  Regular brushing is necessary.

Colour: Any shade of red, from golden red to a dark copper colour.  Usually have white markings on the toes, tail and chest.


            The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed in the early 19th century in the small community of Little River Harbour in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.  The breed was developed in order to “toll” waterfowl and as an all-purpose dog.  Tolling is a hunting practice that was originally performed by foxes.

Canada’s native Micmac population observed foxes working together in order to lure ducks closer to the shoreline.  Micmac hunters would take advantage of this and would snatch ducks that come too close.

In the Early 19th century, hunters both in Canada and England were developing dogs that would go into the water in order to retrieve downed game birds.  These dogs were called Retrievers and many would bear the name of the place in which it was developed such as Labrador and Chesapeake Bay. But the hunters in Little River were going a step further.  They were developing a dog that would lure waterfowl in close to the hunter as well as retrieval. The dog’s exact origin is unknown but it is possible that some Spaniel, Pointer and Retriever type dogs were used.  It is possible that some farm Collies were also mixed in as some dogs became herding dogs in addition to hunting dogs and family pets.

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was officially recognized by the AKC in 1945.  The breed gained some recognition in 1980, when two of the dogs won best in show at championship events that featured many different breeds.  In 1995 Nova Scotia declared the breed its provincial dog.


FCI: Group 8, Section 1 #312

AKC: Sporting

UKC: Gun Dogs

CKC: Group 1 – Sporting Dogs

KC (UK): Gundog


            The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is intelligent, outgoing, affectionate and loyal.  They are generally good with children and can make great family companions.  They are usually quite high energy and require lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation. They definitely love to have a job to do.  As with all dogs, early training and socialization very important.


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