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The dog with a mouthful of a name! Aficionados of this breed refer affectionately to this dog as the 'Toller'. It is a medium sized gundog used as a retriever and has a similar appearance to the Golden Retriever but on a smaller scale.
The name 'Toller' originates from the Middle English word 'Tollen' which means 'to entice', which is exactly what this dog is bred to do. The Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever originates from Canada. It is thought that a breed of dog named the Tolling Red Decoy Dog probably accompanied their owners from the UK to Nova Scotia, where they were crossed with other Retrievers and Spaniels. It is the Toller's rather unusual job to lure ducks and geese within shotgun range, and to retrieve them from the water after they have been shot. The partnership between the dog and hunter is a trustful and impressive one. From a concealed hide near the shore of the water, the hunter would throw a stick parallel to the shore or ask the dog to act in another playful manner. With great but very quiet enthusiasm, the Toller then retrieves the stick. The hunter must display patience before the ducks or geese become curious and approach the shore to investigate the dog's activity. When they are within shooting range, the hunter recalls the dog back to the hide, stands up to startles the birds into the air and then shoots. The Toller then acts as retriever.
In the 1950's this breed was named the Little River Duck Dog or Yarmouth Toller, but when the Canadian Kennel Club began registering them. Once the new name was established, they were given full recognition by most KC's. They remain a popular working dog in Northern America and Canadian.
Average height to withers: Males and females up to 21 inches in height.
Average weight: Usually between 17-23kg for both sexes.
Looking somewhat like a small Golden Retriever, the Toller is a well muscled, well balanced dog which moves easily and freely. It is capable of covering a large amount of ground in a single day where necessary. It has a deep ribcage and chest that is well insulated for swimming in cold water, a sturdy and robust body and strong legs. This dog has a wedge shaped head, with triangular shaped ears set high on its head.
The coat is dense and straight, but can have a wave or kink to it on the dogs back. In colour, it comes in various shades of russet, red and orange. It usually has small white markings on the feet, chest, tail tip and sometimes on the face.
Like its Golden and Flat Coat cousins, this Retriever makes for an excellent family pet as well as working dog. While they do have a very high energy drive, when this is satisfied they are fabulous with children of all ages, being both patient and playful. They are also very good around other animals and pets and early socialisation only serves to enhance this dog's balanced temperament. Clever, intelligent, easy to train and obedient, the Toller can fit into many lifestyles and just loves to be around people. It's natural tolling, hunting and retrieving drives can be put to use outside of the sports field, making this dog great at agility and obedience. Hard working, social and a loyal companion to all, this dog is never happier when it is retrieving something and will happily play stick, ball or fetch for hours with its family. It can be reserved with strangers and will loyally defend or protect its family if it senses something is amiss.
The Toller is a breed which can live to the age of 15 years in good health. Generally a very hardy dog, some issues have become apparent recently, probably due to the limited gene breeding pool. These mainly relate to Thyroid issues and as such they can tend to have skin and hair problems, gain weight easily and seem lethargic and exhibit some neurological changes such as loss of balance and eye flickering. If your dog displays any suspect symptoms, your vet's advice must be sought and the treatment will depend on the diagnosis of the condition. Once treated, Thyroid issues can be controlled and the prognosis is usually positive, but in some cases can be fatal.
The hair and skin of this dog contains natural oils to help protect it from the elements and the cold when it is swimming, so over bathing is best avoided to prevent their loss. Regular grooming is advisable, as it is quite a heavy shedder so this will help rid it of dead hairs.
The biggest input with this dog is time in terms of the exercise it requires. It is not suited to a sedentary lifestyle, and as a result, it needs to be part of an active family who enjoy being outdoors, running, walking and playing.