About The Toller Breed

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever or Toller is a wonderful dog but they are not for everyone. Tollers are an intelligent, high-energy breed that needs daily mental and physical exercise. Please learn more about these wonderful dogs before you bring one into your home. There is a wonderful little article entitled “The Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to get a Toller” that can be read by following this link.

The Toller was developed in Nova Scotia Canada in the mid to late 1800’s. It is unlikely that any pure bred breeds were used in the development of the Toller. A purebred dog in those days would be prohibitively expensive. The people who developed the breed were sustenance hunters, farmers, fishermen, traders and trappers. They would not be wealthy enough to purchase a purebred dog. It is thought that Tollers were developed from progenitors or mixes of Flat Coated Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, some kind of Spaniel, and farm Collies. This breed originated in Yarmouth, Canada so they were developed for cold weather hunting but also tolerate hot weather very well. The double coat of the Toller should never be shaved for the summer heat as shaving actually removes the built in air conditioning action of the double coat.

The Toller is a practical working dog with natural instincts to retrieve. They adapt well to new environments and enjoy working. They excel in obedience, agility and in the field hunting with their owners. They are energetic, athletic and are problem solvers and for the most part are gentle.

While very happy in the field retrieving birds, the Toller makes an excellent companion for an active outdoor loving family. Because of their working background and devotion to their family they make a great companion for an active family committed to involving their dog in their daily life. The Toller needs leadership or they will want to be the leader. They want to be a part of the family and remain a working dog. This means they are happiest when they have a job to do; exercising the kids, escorting the family to the park, and alerting the family of the wily UPS driver are all tasks the suburban Toller excels at. From this working retriever heritage, they sometimes tend to be bold and assertive. For those of us who love the breed, it is part of their charm. However, this can be a problem for someone who is expecting a more compliant dog. A Toller without a job will create one for himself, so families without the time to train or involve their dog in daily routines should steer away from this breed.


Height: 17 to 21 inches at the withers.

Weight: Normally 30 to 50 pounds. Males are usually larger than females and dogs over 50 pounds or under 30 are less common and definitely not preferred. The breed is still developing so different sizes, types, or lines are common. The Toller is considered to be a medium sized dog and the smallest of the retrievers.

The Tollers head and neck are carried slightly elevated. Ears are triangular in shape and down close to the head and forward when alert. The skull is broad and flat between the ears. The muzzle is moderately broad with a scissor bite. The nose and eye-rim color are what we call self colored which mean they blend into the dog, however a black nose and pigment is acceptable, and more common in rescues then is found in the general Toller population. Their chest tends to be deep and wide. The gaze will express intelligence and alertness. Their double coat is shiny, straight or slightly wavy, and can range in length but usually around 2 inches long. The coat color is varying shades of red, from a light red golden orange through dark copper. The longer featherings are generally lighter in shade then the body coat. While there are some variations seen in the breed, Tollers do not normally come in any other color and do not have black in their coat. Tollers also normally have some white markings. These are typically found on the feet, chest/throat, tail tip and blaze. In rescues it is not uncommon to see very little white or "mis marks" that have a patch of white on their shoulders like a Collie or Sheltie. The topline is straight; their tail is bushy and is usually carried even or slightly above the back when moving. The length of the tail should reach the hock. The tail may form a “C” over the back when alert.

For a more complete description of the breed, you can read the AKC Toller Breed Standard by following this link. There are also many Toller fancier's websites that go into depth on the history and description of the breed.

Identification of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Meet 1622

I am #1622. I was in a shelter in Ohio they did not know what a Toller is. Please do not let this happen to one of my brothers or sisters. Let your local shelter know what we look like and who to contact.

No Dog Should Cross The Rainbow Bridge With Only a Number for a Name

The Toller is a relatively rare breed of sporting dog, new to AKC and the general public and are often misidentified as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds with tails, Collie mixes. Setter mixes, and even Chow mixes or just plain mutts when they end up at pounds or shelters. Sometimes even when they are an owner turn in that has told the shelter the breed, if the shelter hasn't heard of the breed they re-label them. Toller Rescue Inc. Founding President Laura White has authored a concise guide to identifying Tollers “What Makes a Toller a Toller, a Rescue Primer”. It is available here in pdf that you can download and print. There is a companion photo pages guide “Rescue Primer Photos” also available as a pdf for download. Combined, these guides hopefully will help you to identify a possible Toller, and also help avoid misidentifying similar breeds and other mixes as Tollers. Because the Toller is a relatively new breed, there is still some significant variation in appearance.

If you think you may have a Toller in your shelter, Toller Rescue Inc. can help with identification and information, and can take the dog into foster care and ultimate placement in a forever home where these sometimes challenging dogs are loved and appreciated.


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