Sometimes I will get a call at my office asking for advice which breed of dog would be the best for a client’s family. There are many breeds out there and many of the breeds have characteristics that may or may not be a good fit for that particular family.
Anyway, I thought that this month I would highlight a breed that is not very well known in the dog world. It has only been recognized as a breed in the AKC since 2003 and is the 170th most popular breed. That breed is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. This breed’s odd name comes from its ability to lure ducks within shooting range by “dancing” on the shore, a technique known as tolling. The native Indians of Nova Scotia admired a fox’s ability to entice ducks this way, and they taught their dogs this behavior.
It was a unique ability, but wouldn’t it be nice if the dog could also retrieve? So that is what happened. The breeders started with the Micmac Indian dogs and skillfully blended some Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay and Flat-Coated Retrievers, a little Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter and a touch of Collie. When they were done, they had created a small, enticing red-haired dog with boundless energy and amazing intelligence. It was called the Little River Duck Dog for many years, but in 1945 its name was changed to what it is today.
The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever is like a deep-chested small Golden Retriever that has a dense coat and is well insulated for swimming in cold water. Their coat is various shades of red and orange and usually have small white markings on the feet, chest, tail tip and face. The powerful compact, well-muscled body is on sturdy, solid legs.
These dogs are extremely intelligent, easy to obedience train, and good with children. They make good companion dogs as long as they get enough exercise to fulfill their energetic needs. Due to their compact size and intelligence, they do well in agility competitions. Their compact size also makes them ideal for condo or apartment living.
Tollers may be a bit more reserved to strangers than the Golden Retriever, so start at an early age to socialize them with people and other dogs.
Health wise they tend to be pretty healthy. Conditions seen in the breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, eye disease such as progressive retinal atrophy, Addison’s Disease and hypothyroidism. Not all conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is hard to predict whether a puppy will be free of these maladies, so it is important to find a reputable breeder to assure that steps have been taken in the breed to minimize the occurrence of these conditions.
The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retrievers are happy wherever they are – whether it is in the confirmation ring, hunting, or watching a movie. They are able to go from couch potato to bounding retriever in mere seconds. They like new experiences and are easy to take traveling. This breed learns wicked fast and they remember things that are important to them. They will never cease to amaze you. When you look into your Toller’s eyes you can see their intelligence and you know they love you – or maybe they are hungry, or want outside, or you have hidden the ball again. So if you want a dog breed that will never give you a dull moment, you may want to consider a Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever.
If you have any questions about this breed, or any other breed, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.