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Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Gun Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dogs ability to perform its traditional work.


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 flocks 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 Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 1987.

General Appearance

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 the heavily feathered tail high and in constant motion.


The Toller is highly intelligent, easy to train, and has great endurance. A strong and able swimmer, he is a naturally 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.


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 inches between the ears. Length of the head is approximately 9 inches from nose to occiput but the head must be in proportion to body size. The stop is moderate.


Length of the muzzle is slightly shorter than the length of the skull. It 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. Lips are fairly tight with no prominence of flews. Hair on the muzzle is short and fine.


Broad with well-opened nostrils, tapering at the tip. Color should blend with the color of the coat or be black.


The correct bite is tight scissors. Full dentition is required. Jaws are strong enough to carry a sizeable bird, and softness in mouth is essential.


Set well apart, almond-shaped, medium-sized. Color amber to brown, harmonizing with the coat color. Expression is friendly, alert, and intelligent. Flesh around eyes should be the same color as

the lips and nose. EARS

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 a 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 brisket reaching to the elbow. The ribs are well-sprung, neither barrel-shaped nor flat. The back is short, and the topline is level. Loin is short and strong and tuck up is moderate.


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


The strong, webbed feet are of medium size, tight and round, with well-arched toes and thick pads.

Serious Fault: Lack of webbing.


Tail set follows the natural, very slight slope of the croup. The tail is 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; then it curves high over, though never touching, the body.


The Toller was bred to retrieve from icy waters and must have a water-repellant 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 - 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.

Height and Weight

Ideal height for males over 18 months is 19 to 20 inches. Females over 18 months are 18 to 19 inches. One inch over or under ideal height is allowed.

Weight should be in proportion to the height and bone of the dog. Weight guidelines: 45 to 51 pounds for adult males; bitches, 37 to 43 pounds.


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 inch 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.
Any shyness in adult classes.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
White on shoulders, around ears, on back of neck and across back of flanks.
Silvery coat, gray in coat, black areas in coat.
Undershot bite.
Wry mouth.
Overshot bite, by more than 1/8 inch.
Butterfly nose.
Any color other than shades of red or orange.

UKC Breed Standards: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised January 1, 2007

©Copyright 1990, United Kennel Club