Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a small, enticing redhead with boundless energy. Right off the bat, he sounds appealing, but what’s with that name? The Toller, as he’s nicknamed, was developed in Nova Scotia’s Little River district by hunters who wanted a dog who would attract birds as well as retrieve them. That’s where the "tolling" comes in. The word refers to the dogs’ habit of "dancing" on the shoreline, enticing curious ducks to come in for a closer look. Yes, it really works!

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Toller has a lot going for him: personality, size, versatility and an easy-care coat. But like any breed, he's not for everyone. Tollers are smart, independent and active. Their alert nature makes them excellent watchdogs. They love their own people but are reserved around strangers. Their size suits them to condo or apartment living, but only if you are equally smart and active and able to meet their needs for exercise, entertainment and consistent, patient training. The Toller is almost as intense as a Border Collie.

Channel his energy into dog sports such as agility, flyball and flying disc games, or teach him to pull you or your kid on skates or a skateboard.

Tollers take well to training, like most sporting breeds, but they are thinkers and they want to do things their own way. With this breed, it's important to establish rules, be consistent and, above all, prevent the dog from getting bored. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. When the motivation is there, the Toller learns quickly and easily.

Like most dogs, Tollers become bored when left to their own devices. They can easily become noisy or destructive if they don't have other dogs to keep them company and don't receive much attention from their people. But when the Toller lives with a family who is willing to spend plenty of time training and exercising him, he thrives.

The Toller is a wash-and-go dog. His medium-length, water-repellent double coat requires only weekly brushing to keep mats and tangles from forming. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim the nails as needed, clean and trim the foot pads, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Toller needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Toller who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. Tollers have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, eye problems such as Collie eye anomaly and progressive retinal atrophy, Addison's disease and hypothyroidism. Because of his red coloring and self-colored nose, the Toller may also be predisposed to immune-mediated disease. At a minimum ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA) participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Toller to achieve CHIC certification, he must have OFA certification or a PennHIP score for hips, eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and a DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Addison's Disease High $1,000-$5,000

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (USA), and choose one who is committed to following the NSDTRC's Code of Ethics.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Tollers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Tollers can live 10 to 14 years or more, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Toller to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Pet insurance for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.