Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog breed

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


This good-natured, high-energy breed is a joy in the right hands – but too much dog when mismatched with someone looking for a couch potato.

High-spirited and playful, quick moving and agile, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever needs plenty of exercise, especially fetching and swimming. Mental exercise (advanced obedience, agility, tracking, field work) is just as important. This breed is not a good choice for a casual pet.

His reaction to strangers varies from reserved to curious, but often includes some initial caution. He needs early and ongoing socialization to avoid suspiciousness or timidity.

The Toller is usually fine with other family pets. He may chase your cat, but seldom means any harm.

Though bright and clever, most Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are easily distracted and easily bored, making training more difficult than you might think. Other Tollers are surprisingly strong-willed and dominant, testing the rules to see what they can get away with. You must demonstrate consistent leadership and keep training sessions short, upbeat, and challenging.

As with all retrievers, the Toller can be "mouthy" – you must control his tendency to chew on objects and to mouth your hands. Provide a box filled with toys so he can carry something around in his mouth.

When excited or anxious, Tollers tend to whine and "whistle", which can be irritating when done to excess.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized, active, and athletic
  • Has a lovely feathered coat in shades of orange/red
  • Is high-spirited and thrives on vigorous athletic activities
  • Is good-natured and dependable
  • Excels in competitive activities such as obedience and agility

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough or left alone too much
  • Fearfulness or suspiciousness when not socialized enough
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • Shedding
  • Barking or whining when excited

A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

If I was considering a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Duck Tollers were bred to be working dogs – not simply pets to hang around the house or backyard. Too many people acquire this breed because of its athletic prowess and handsome appearance; then they don't provide enough opportunities for the dog to vent his energy and do interesting things. Bored Tollers express their frustration by barking and destructive chewing.

    If you want an easy-to-live-with pet who doesn't need much exercise and sleeps on the couch most of the day, this is not the breed for you. Most Tollers want to run and hike and swim and play fetch games and participate in field work (hunting), or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or tracking, or a similar canine activity.

  2. Mind of their own. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers may look somewhat like Golden Retrievers, but these breeds are very different. Unlike most Golden Retrievers, most Tollers are not eager to please or easy to train. Most Tollers have an independent mind of their own and can be manipulative and willful. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Toller to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Toller Training.
  3. Providing enough socialization. Compared again to Golden Retrievers, most Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers do not greet strangers with blind enthusiasm. Many Tollers, in fact, are standoffish and need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness.
  4. Grooming and shedding. To keep their pretty feathered coat free of mats, Tollers require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming. And they shed quite a bit, so be prepared for vacuuming!

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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