Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever


Discover if the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a good match for you in our guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:




Coat Color:

RedRed Gold
Blue Ribbon

Best For

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are best for active homes with a lot of room to run and play. They are amazing with kids and other dogs and can get along with cats if proper introductions are made.

Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever Traits

Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever Temperament

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is high-energy, playful and loving with a dash of independence—especially when they get distracted. Their temperament is well-suited for pups who were bred to be hunting dogs. If they’re not hunting, their next favorite thing to do is play with you or a gaggle of kids (a match made in heaven!). They’re also great with other dogs, and if raised around cats as a puppy, they will be accepting of felines. Be warned: A Toller dog’s energy level and drive may be too much for cats at times.

The Toller breed is a friendly, social and loving dog, so start socializing them while they’re puppies to bring out these wonderful traits as they grow up. And while they aren’t considered aggressive, pent-up energy will express itself in unwanted behaviors if they don’t get enough physical and mental exercise. These pups are not for people who love the couch more than activity.

How to Care for a Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever

The Toller breed is a gun dog bred for duck hunting. This means they need a job to channel their high energy. Physical and mental exercise are a must, as are confident leadership and obedience training. Tollers are very loving and affectionate, so pet parents committed to respecting their intelligence, playfulness and work ethic will reap the rewards of having this awesome dog to call their own.

Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever Health

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years and are a relatively healthy breed without many health problems. But it’s best to be aware of the health issues they may face. Many of these can be tested by responsible breeders to ensure these conditions won’t be passed to future generations.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is common in many medium to large dog breeds. It occurs when the hip joint isn’t formed properly and is very painful for you pup. Signs include limping or having trouble getting up. Treatments range from weight management to physical therapy to surgery.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA is a degenerative eye disease that eventually causes vision loss. There is no treatment for this condition, but a pup can still live a happy life with vision loss.
  • Juvenile Addison’s Disease: This is a disorder of the endocrine system where the adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones for normal function. It can show up in Toller puppies as early as 5 months of age. It usually starts with lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea but can be more severe with collapsing and fatalities. To manage the disease, your vet may prescribe hormone replacements to help regulate your dog’s adrenal function.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy: DM is a neurological disorder that affects the white matter tissue of the spinal cord. The disease usually shows up in adulthood, and dogs exhibit gradual muscle atrophy and loss of coordination that typically begins in the hind legs. There is no treatment for this condition at this time, but treatment of concurrent problems such as osteoarthritis and weight management and exercise are important to manage the condition.
  • Degenerative Encephalopathy: With this disease, the region of the brain that’s important in controlling movement and some aspect of behavior degenerates over time. Dogs with this disease show neurological signs at a young age, such as anxious behavior and coordination loss, among others. Unfortunately, there are no treatments for this disease at this time.

Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever History

It’s literally all in a name when it comes to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s origin. This breed hails from the Little River District of Nova Scotia, where they were first bred by 19th-century sportsmen. Their nickname, Little River Duck Dog, is an homage to where they come from.

Tollers were bred with a very specific purpose in mind. These “decoy dogs” are designed to imitate foxes in size and color. Hunters took them along the river banks to act as a decoy to splash along the shoreline and lure curious ducks to shore. (Did you know ducks are fascinated by foxes? They are, though the exact reason why they are drawn to foxes is unclear.) The breed’s name includes a derivative of the Middle English word tollen, which means to lure. Once the ducks came to see what commotion the Tollers were causing, they were perfectly poised for hunters to shoot them. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever’s history is still anchored in the breed’s personality today—they are inexhaustible, hardworking dogs capable of retrieving without seeming to stop.

The American Kennel Club recognized the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in 2003. Not surprisingly, they are the breed with the longest name in the AKC Stud book.

Hoping to add a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever to your pack? Find a list of reputable breeders on the American Kennel Club website. What’s the average price for a puppy? You can expect to pay an average of $1,500 to $2,500 for a pup. But for that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. You can also contact a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever rescue organization near you or keep a lookout for the breed at your local animal shelter to adopt a pup.


Do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers shed?

Yes, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers shed moderately, and they shed more heavily during the fall and spring. Regular brushing will help minimize shedding, but this breed is by no means hypoallergenic.

Are Tollers good family dogs?

Tollers make great family dogs when they’re given plenty of physical and mental exercise. These sporty, working dogs need lots of activity, so they’re best suited for families who can match their energy level.

Do Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers bark a lot?

If left alone all day or for an extended period of time, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever may bark a lot. Tollers are also known to have a high-pitched scream that is unique to their breed.

Are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers aggressive?

By their nature, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrieves are not aggressive. However, if they don’t have enough exercise (physical and mental), what they do to your home may look like aggression.

What are the most popular Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever names?

Some of the most popular Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever names are Scout, Lucky, Simba, Chief, Honey, Jack, Penny, Duke, Daisy, Dixie and Rusty. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Mixes?

The most common Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever types of mixes are:

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever-Poodle mix
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever-Border Collie mix
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever-Golden Retriever mix
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrieve Husky mix
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever-Labrador mix

Top Takeaways

You’ll get the best of both worlds with a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: a tireless, sporty companion as well as a dog who loves to cuddle. These highly intelligent working dogs need to be exercised—and did we mention they love the water? Their constant desire to play and retrieve will be appreciated by active families looking for a dog who matches their high energy level.

Expert input provided by Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club, Dr. Elizabeth Grey, Veterinarian, President and Hospital Director of Carmel Mountain Ranch Veterinary Hospital, and owner of Dr. Grey’s Play & Stay, and Graham Bloem, Certified Dog Trainer & Behavior Expert, Owner & Training Director of Specialty Dog Training.

Top Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever Names

These are the top Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Ruby
  • Nova
  • Sadie
  • Luna
  • Moxie
  • Lily
  • Lucy
  • Maple
  • Sandy
  • Hazel

Male Names

  • Tucker
  • Cooper
  • Finn
  • Murphy
  • Apollo
  • Milo
  • Gunner
  • Goose
  • Whiskey
  • Ranger