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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever


The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed in Nova Scotia in the early 19th Century to toll (or lure) and retrieve waterfowl. The tolling dog runs, jumps and plays along the shoreline in full view of flock of ducks, occasionally disappearing from sight and then quickly reappearing, aided by the hunter, who throws small sticks or a ball for the dog. The dog's playful actions arouse the curiosity of the ducks swimming offshore and they are lured within gunshot range. The Toller is subsequently sent out to retrieve the dead or wounded birds.


The Toller is a medium-sized, powerful, compact, balanced, well-muscled dog; medium to heavy in bone, with a high degree of agility, alertness and determination. Many Tollers have a slightly sad expression until they go to work, when their aspect changes to intense concentration and excitement. At work, the dog has a speedy, rushing action, with the head carried out almost level with the back and heavily-feathered tail in constant motion.


The Toller is highly intelligent, easy to train and has great endurance. A strong and able swimmer, he is a natural and tenacious retriever on land and from water, setting himself for springy action the moment the slightest indication is given that retrieving is required. His strong retrieving desire and playfulness are qualities essential to his tolling ability.


Ideal height for males over 18 months is 19-20 in. (when breed standards are converted to metric, the figures 48-51 cm. should be used); females over 18 months 18-19 in. (when breed standards are converted to metric the figures 45-48 cm. should be used. 1 in (when breed standards are converted to metric the figure 2.5 cm. should be used) over or under ideal height is allowed. Weight should be in proportion to the height and bone of the dog (guidelines 45-51 lbs, when breed standards are converted to metric, the figure 20-23 kg. should be used, for adult males: bitches 37-43 lbs., when breed standards are converted to metric, the figures 17-20 kg. should be used).


The Toller was bred to retrieve from icy waters and must have a waterrepellant double coat of medium length and softness with softer dense undercoat. The coat may have a slight wave on the back, but is otherwise straight. Some winter coats may form a long loose curl at the throat. Featherings are soft at the throat, behind the ears and at the back of the thighs, and forelegs are moderately feathered. Color is various shades of red or orange with lighter featherings and underside of tail, and usually at least one of the following white markings - a tip of tail, feet (not extending beyond the pasterns) chest and blaze. A dog of otherwise high quality Is not to be penalized for lack of white. The pigment of the nose, lips and eye rims to be flesh-colored, blending with coat or black.


a.) Skull: The head is clean-cut and slightly wedge shaped. The broad skull is only slightly rounded, the occiput not prominent and the cheeks flat. A good measurement for an average male would be 5 1/2 in (when breed standards are converted to metric, the figure 14 cm. should be used) between the ears, tapering to 1 1/2 in (when breed standards are converted to metric the figure 3.8 cm. should be used) at the bridge of the nose. Length of the head is approximately 9 in (when the breed standards are converted to metric the figure 23 cm. should be used) from nose to occiput, but the head must be in proportion to body size. The stop is moderate.

b.) Muzzle: Tapers in a clean line from stop to nose, with the lower jaw strong but not prominent. The underline of the muzzle runs almost in a straight line from the corner of the lip to the corner of the jawbone, with depth at the stop being greater than at the nose. Hair on the muzzle is short and fine.

c.) Nose: Tapers from bridge to tip, with nostrils well open. Color should blend with that of the coat or be black.

d.) Mouth: Lips fit fairly tightly, forming a gentle curve in profile, with no heaviness in flews. The correct bite is tight scissors, full dentition is required. Jaws are strong enough to carry a size able bird, and softness in mouth is essential.

e.) Eyes: Set well apart, almond shaped, medium sized. Color amber to brown. Expression is friendly, alert and intelligent. Flesh around eyes should be the same color as the lips.

f.) Ear: Triangular, of medium size, set high and well back on the skull with the base held very slightly erect; well feathered at the back of the fold; hair short at the rounded tips.


Strongly-muscled and well set on, of medium length, with no indication of throatiness.


Shoulders should be muscular with the blade well laid back and well laid on, giving good withers sloping into short back. The blade and upper arm are roughly equal in length. Elbows should be close to the body turning neither in nor out, working cleanly and evenly. The forelegs should appear as parallel columns straight and strong in bone. The pasterns are strong and slightly sloping. The strong webbed feet are of medium size, tight and round, with well-arched toes and thick pads. Dewclaws may be removed.


Deep-chested with good spring of rib, brisket reaching to the elbow. The back is short and straight, the topline level, the loins strong and muscular. The ribs are well- sprung, neither barrel-shaped not flat. Tuck-up is moderate.


Muscular, broad and square in appearance. Rear and front angulation should be in balance. Thighs are very muscular, upper and lower sections bent approximately equal in length. Stifles are well bent and hock well down, turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws must not be present.


Following the natural very slight slope of the croup, broad at the base, luxuriant and well feathered, with the last vertebra reaching at least to the hock. The tail may be carried below the level of the back except when the dog is alert, it curve's high over though never touching the body.


The Toller combines an impression of power with a springy gait, showing good reach in front and a strong driving rear. Feet should turn neither in nor out and legs travel in a straight line. As speed increases, the dog should single-track, with the topline remaining level.


(To be penalized according to degree) Dogs more than 1 in (2.5 cm.) over or under ideal height. Tail too short, kinked or curled over touching the back. Lack of substance in the adult. Abrupt stop. Large, round eyes. Nose, eye rims, and eyes not of prescribed color. Bright pink nose. Open Coat. Splayed or paper feet, down in pasterns. Roached, sway back, slack loins. Tail carried below level of back when dog gaiting.


White on shoulders, around ears, on back of neck, across back of flanks. Silvery coat, grey in coat, black areas in coat. Lack of webbing in feet. Undershot bite, wry mouth. Overshot bite, by more than 1/8". In adult classes, any shyness. Butterfly nose. Any color other than shades of red or orange.

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