The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (or more simply, the Toller) originated in Little River Harbour in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, in the early 19th century. The dog would play along the shoreline to lure (or “toll”) inquisitive waterfowl to within his master’s gunshot range, and then retrieve the hunter’s quarry. Tollers likely descend from other red decoy dogs brought to Nova Scotia by European settlers, who were probably crossed with spaniels, setters and other retrievers.
The Toller is a medium-sized dog, with a reddish-colored coat that grows long and feathery along his body and tail. Because of his background as a water retriever, he has a double coat, with a water-repellant top coat and a soft, dense undercoat. He will shed seasonally, so a regular good brushing is recommended.
Agile and alert, the Toller is the smallest of the retrievers, but he is strong for his size. This is a dog who loves his job, is eager to please and becomes excited when it’s time to retrieve. Despite his alert and outgoing attitude, he is not nervous or hyper. A loving and affectionate family member, he is patient and gentle with children. He would prefer to live anywhere there’s room to play fetch — particularly near the water — but can do well in an apartment as long as he gets plenty of daily exercise.
Athleticism aside, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is prone to hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health — not to mention your family’s budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Tollers are prone to include hormonal deficiencies such as hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease); neurological conditions such as epilepsy; hearing problems such as deafness; joint conditions such as hip dysplasia; eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy; and other diseases such as meningitis-ateritis (SRMA).
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Toller inherits anything more than a knack for retrieving, you’re covered.