Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
OVERVIEW OF THE NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER
With a name that’s quite a mouthful, this intelligent dog breed goes mostly by the name ‘Toller’. Tollen is the originating word that means to entice. Tolling, which refers to a ‘luring game’, is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s expertise. They’re known as hunting and hardworking gundogs; luring waterfowl and retrieving the bird they helped to attract from the water.
This sporting breed is intelligent and affectionate. They have plenty of energy and love getting dirty. If the reference to ‘retriever’ makes you think they’re similar to Golden Retrievers, don’t be fooled. Although they have a very happy nature, they are incredibly smart and will control the household if given the opportunity.
With proper training, their bucketloads of energy and enthusiasm can be channeled to any activity. They require a fair and consistent owner who can display firm, but not harsh, training interactions. With positive reinforcement, encouragement, consistency, and patience, your pet pal will be eager to please. Harsh, forceful, or boring training will awaken your pet’s stubbornness and you will have an uphill battle from there.
These medium-sized dogs stand between 17 and 21 inches tall depending on their gender. Females can weigh as little as 35 pounds while males can grow to 50 pounds in adult weight.
They do well with active families, kids, and other dogs and will enjoy life with a weekend hunter or active hikers. They do have a high prey drive and will jet off to explore a squirrel, mouse, or bird that looks fun to catch.
Tollers have a loud, high-pitched, scream-like bark. This could make them problematic for apartments or areas with noise restrictions. Although they are not problem barkers, they will yelp out any time they get excited, see squirrels or birds or get frustrated. If they don’t get the attention they need and are left to become bored, you will most likely ruin the relationship you have with your neighbors.
If you are considering welcoming a Toller to your family, here’s what you need to know to give your new pet pal the very best care.
TOLLER FOOD AND HEALTH
If you are buying a puppy from a breeder, make sure they provide you with health clearance certificates for your puppy and the parents. This proves that only healthy dogs are used for breeding and prevents the occurrence of hereditary diseases. For your Toller, get clearances for hip dysplasia as well as certification that their eyes are healthy.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that occurs when the hip joint and bone don’t fit correctly. It can, however, also be triggered by hard impact experienced with a jump or fall as well as rapid growth from high-calorie consumption. It can result in lameness in one of the rear legs and lead to arthritis as your dog ages.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a family of eye diseases that cause gradual retina deterioration. It is detectable long before your dog shows signs, which is why it’s important to get clearance certificates from your breeder. With PRA, dogs will initially become night-blind and later lose day vision. If their surroundings remain the same, they can adapt well to their limited vision.
Collie Eye Anomaly is another eye disease that has been found in Tollers. The inherited condition can lead to blindness and is usually detectable by the time your pup is two years old. There is no cure for the condition and dogs who carry the gene should not be bred. Deafness can also occur in some lines of Tollers, however, this only occurs later in life, around seven years old.
It is important to keep a close eye on your Toller’s diet. Avoid feeding your pet pal table scraps even when they give you sparkly puppy eyes to entice you. Your dog needs high-quality nutrition to ensure healthy development, the growth of shiny fur, and to keep them satisfied. When giving them training treats, remember to add this to their daily calorie intake.
Although the amount of food will vary according to your pet’s activity levels, weight, and age, it is recommended to give an active adult Toller between 2.5 and 3 cups of quality dry food every day. Divide this into two portions and feed them at consistent times.
Puppies require different nutrient ratios and should only be given puppy formulas. The packaging will clearly state what age the dog food is intended for and how much to give your pup according to its weight.
If you prefer cooking your adult Toller fresh (or frozen) meals, make sure they get a high-protein diet with lean meats, some veggies, and sweet potatoes. Some dogs love bananas as treats too.
Ensure that the foods you give your pet are dog-friendly since there are many human foods including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and certain nuts that are toxic to dogs. When introducing something new into their diet, always start with a small amount to see how their tummy reacts.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR TOLLER
Tollers are very athletic and upbeat and need plenty of play, walks, and adventures. Make sure you can give them the necessary activity and attention if you’re planning on adding one to your family. If they get bored, they’ll find their own methods of entertainment which usually include digging and chewing.
They do well at sports and agility competitions. Be sure to start socializing and training your pup early on. They should especially learn to come to you when called since they’ll get excited and run off if something exciting catches their attention.
Keep your Toller on a leash when out in public places, walking along roads, or in parks. Although collars are ideal for name tags, they are not a good choice for a leash. Use a harness instead since it allows you to lead without placing strain on your dog’s neck. If your Toller gets excited and suddenly moves forward, a collar can cause damage to the trachea, throat, and neck and even cause thyroid, eye, and ear problems. Using a harness will eliminate this problem since it fits around their torso.
Opt for a front-clip, V-neck harness. The V-neck strap prevents too much heat retention and matting of their coat. If your pet pal is already trained to walk nicely with you (instead of taking you for a walk) a back-clip harness will also work. Some pups can, however, get into the habit of pulling you along if you start with a back-clip harness that offers a little less control. Upsize it regularly as your puppy grows. If you spend time outdoors after dark, get something with reflective strips to keep your Toller visible to other people and traffic.
If you do decide to get a collar, check it daily while your puppy is growing and upsize as needed. Collars should be removed at night to allow the skin to breathe and to prevent hair knots and breakage. It will also lessen the chances of infections, abrasions, and rashes.
BEST CRATES, BEDS, AND DOG HOUSES FOR TOLLERS
Tollers bond deeply with their human family and can experience separation anxiety. Toys are no replacement for you. They’ll want family time, and that means living indoors with you.
If you opt for crate training, never use the crate as punishment, and never leave your pet pal in there for a day. If your Toller sees their crate as a comfortable place where they can rest, they will be more at ease spending time there to take a nap or when you need to go out.
Since they shed a fair amount, it’s best to go for a metal or plastic crate rather than a soft fabric one that may be hard to clean. To make the crate comfortable, add a mattress inside and partially cover it with a soft blanket at night if it’s where your pup is going to sleep.
The crate should have enough airflow and be big enough for your Toller to move around easily. Puppies are still going to grow, so consider getting a bigger crate than you need and section it off inside while they are still small. As they grow, they should be able to stretch out comfortably, stand, and turn around without any obstruction while their mattress and toys are inside.
When choosing a bed for your dog, get something that has a removable and machine-washable cover to make cleaning easy. If your dog is a big chewer, make sure the fabric and construction of the bed are durable. Additionally, keep a chew toy around to keep them from going for the bedding.
It is just as important for dogs to get a good night’s sleep as it is for humans, so make sure their bed is supportive, comfortable, and big enough.
BEST TOYS FOR TOLLERS
Tollers love to hunt and play. They will play fetch until you’ve exhausted both your left and right arm. Balls, Kongs, and frisbees are all great toys to stock. Get a dog ball launcher to get them running a little further. If you get a frisbee, opt for a rubber model since plastic types can have sharp edges that can hurt your dog’s mouth.
Chew toys are a must for puppies. As they teethe they start chewing whatever they can find to relieve itchy and swollen gums. Teething toys will save your furniture, shoes, and kids’ toys. Older dogs may also like rope or rubber chew toys. Chew toys for adult dogs can help maintain dental health by removing plaque build-up, however, it is not a replacement for brushing their teeth.
Since Tollers love water, consider getting your dog a pet pool or fountain mat if you have a big enough backyard.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR TOLLER OWNERS
Tollers have beautiful medium-length red-orange coats. Their double coats are water-repellent and they may have white markings on their chest, feet, tail tip, or face. Their tails should be full, bushy, and never sculpted or trimmed.
Besides the fact that they like rolling around in the dirt, their coats are fairly easy to maintain. They require weekly brushing to remove dead and loose hairs. Twice a year, when they shed profusely, daily brushing is recommended to avoid hair from ending up on your clothing, furniture, and pretty much everywhere else. Bathe your dog only when they’re dirty or smelly.
Some puppies can display ears that fold back instead of framing their face. If you notice this, talk to your vet or breeder as they may recommend taping the ears to correct the position.
When brushing your Toller weekly, make a habit of checking their ears, eyes, paws, and skin for redness or any infections that need treatment. This will prevent minor issues from turning into something serious later.
Brush your dog’s teeth daily with dog-friendly toothpaste to prevent gum disease, tartar build-up, and bad breath. You’ll also want to keep their nails in check. If they don’t wear them down with play and walks, trim them monthly or when you can hear them clicking on the floor. You will want to get a professional to do this or ask your vet for tips since the blood vessels in their nails make it a tricky task. One wrong clip can cause bleeding and be painful for your pup.
Since dogs are sensitive about having their paws, legs, and face touched or handled, it is important to get them used to grooming from an early stage. Make sure it is always a pleasant experience filled with encouragement and positive reinforcement. If they perceive it as a negative encounter, it will become a difficult and unpleasant task for both of you and you will struggle with vet check-ups.
BEST NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER ACCESSORIES
Since Tollers love the water, they will most likely enjoy beach or lake adventures. A drying coat is a great way to keep your car upholstery clean and your pup wrapped up for the drive home. The fitted towel wraps and secures around your pup almost like a dog jacket.
This high-energy pet pal is a great companion for people who enjoy hiking and camping. If you have a hiking or camping lifestyle, why not get your Toller their own hiking gear? Items to consider are foldable water and food bowls, a dog backpack, and an inflatable dog bed.
To learn more about medium breeds like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, check out our breed hub page.