The Finer Points of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

            The Finer Points of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
A Toller happily retrieving

Gordon Barkwell

What is the ideal dog?  This is a question many potential dog owners will find themselves asking as they search for the perfect dog to bring into their lives.  Usually, the question gives rise to another – what characteristics do you want in a pet?  Differing lifestyles mean some types of dog behaviour are more desirable than others.  An elderly couple may consider a calm “laze about” dog ideal, while an active family may consider a high energy dog a perfect fit.  Certain things, however, are nearly always on the list; the dog needs to be friendly, intelligent, trainable, and obedient.  Does anybody want an antisocial, aggressive dog?  Having considered the question regarding what traits are desirable, another question will likely arise.  What breeds possess these characteristics?  To this question, my answer is that no dog possesses more desirable characteristics than the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or the “Toller”.

The beautiful red and white Toller is one of three remaining truly Canadian dogs, the other two being the Newfoundland, and the Canadian Eskimo Dog.  The Toller is the smallest of the retrievers, and the provincial dog of Nova Scotia. As the name suggests, the dog originated in Nova Scotia where it was used for a form of duck hunting known as tolling, in which the dog lures in game, rather than seeking it out.  Foxes have historically used this technique for hunting, and the Toller was bred with a similar appearance to a fox, and to have an affinity for the kind of behaviour that causes the game to curiously come closer.

But what makes the Toller such a good pet, when it was originally bred for hunting?

Tollers are highly intelligent, patient and extremely obedient.  They need these characteristics to work successfully tolling and retrieving.  When tolling, the dog needs to be indifferent to the ducks which come closer and closer to it until cued by the hunter to retrieve the downed birds.  It is amazing to see this self-control in such a lively dog.  As a result of this capacity, a well-trained Toller is very patient.  This makes them an excellent fit in virtually any family, especially one with young children.

The Toller is also very affectionate and devoted to its family.  They love to be around people and are always very friendly, and have been known to be successful therapy dogs.  A Toller will also get along with other family pets.   The dog is gentle, playful, and high energy; a perfect match for a family with like-minded children!

The Toller needs a job to do, making them extremely trainable for nearly any activity or task.  They are fantastic jogging companions, will happily go on family walks, hikes, or camping trips, and absolutely love the water.  Although they are high energy and need exercise, the Toller is not hyperactive and will always gladly settle down with the family at the end of a busy day, turning into a contented couch potato.

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is nothing short of a fantastic dog, and absolutely possesses nearly every trait new dog owners want.  This versatile, friendly, peppy dog would be the perfect companion for nearly any new owner, adding a lively new dimension to family life.

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