20 Pros and Cons of Owning a Duck Tolling Retriever

Owning a dog is a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its set of responsibilities and considerations. When choosing a dog breed, it’s crucial to match the breed’s characteristics and needs with your own lifestyle and preferences. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, commonly known as the “Toller,” is a unique and fascinating breed. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the pros and cons of owning a Duck Tolling Retriever, helping you make an informed decision about whether this breed is the right fit for you.

The Duck Tolling Retriever: A Brief Overview

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, often simply referred to as the “Toller,” is a medium-sized sporting breed that originated in Canada. It was initially developed to lure and retrieve waterfowl, particularly ducks, hence the name. Tollers are known for their distinctive red-orange coat and energetic, intelligent, and friendly nature. They are the smallest of the retriever breeds and have gained popularity not only as hunting dogs but also as beloved family pets.

Pros of Owning a Duck Tolling Retriever

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  1. Versatile Sporting Dog

Duck Tolling Retrievers were initially bred for hunting, particularly for luring and retrieving waterfowl. Their ability to mimic the movements of a fox or other small mammals to attract ducks has earned them the nickname “Tollers.” If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and enjoy activities such as hunting, retrieving games, or dock diving, a Toller can be an excellent companion.

  1. Intelligence and Trainability

Tollers are highly intelligent dogs and excel in various dog sports and training activities. They are quick learners and enjoy mental challenges. With proper training and socialization from an early age, Tollers can become well-behaved and obedient pets.

  1. Active Lifestyle

If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy outdoor adventures, a Toller might be the perfect companion. They have high energy levels and require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Daily walks, runs, or play sessions are essential to keep your Toller content.

  1. Affectionate and Loyal

Duck Tolling Retrievers are known for their affectionate nature and strong bond with their owners. They thrive on human companionship and are often described as “Velcro dogs” because they love to be close to their families. If you’re looking for a dog that will be your constant companion and provide unwavering loyalty, a Toller might be the right choice.

  1. Good with Children

Tollers are generally good with children and can be wonderful family pets. They are playful and enjoy interactive games, making them excellent playmates for kids. However, it’s essential to supervise interactions between any dog and young children to ensure safety for both the child and the dog.

  1. Adaptable and Sociable

Tollers are known for their friendly and sociable nature. They usually get along well with other dogs and can adapt to various social situations. Proper socialization during puppyhood is essential to ensure they are comfortable around other animals and people.

  1. Low Grooming Needs

Compared to some long-haired breeds, Tollers have relatively low grooming needs. Their short double coat is easy to maintain with regular brushing to remove loose hair. However, during the shedding seasons, they may require more frequent brushing to keep their coat in good condition.

  1. Healthy Breed

Generally, Duck Tolling Retrievers are a healthy breed with a relatively long lifespan. Responsible breeding practices have helped reduce the risk of certain genetic health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups and a healthy lifestyle can contribute to a Toller’s well-being.

  1. Unique Appearance

The Toller’s unique and striking appearance sets it apart from many other dog breeds. Their vibrant red-orange coat, white markings, and expressive eyes give them a distinctive and eye-catching appearance. If you appreciate a breed with a unique look, a Toller may be your perfect match.

  1. Compact Size

Tollers are a medium-sized breed, standing 17 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 35 to 50 pounds. Their compact size makes them suitable for various living situations, including apartments and smaller homes.

Cons of Owning a Duck Tolling Retriever

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  1. High Exercise Requirements

While their high energy levels can be a pro for active individuals or families, it can also be a con for those who have a more sedentary lifestyle. Duck Tolling Retrievers need a significant amount of exercise to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Failing to provide enough exercise can lead to boredom, destructive behavior, and excessive barking.

  1. Shedding

Tollers have a double coat that sheds seasonally, which can be a challenge for some owners. During shedding seasons, you may find their fur on furniture, clothes, and floors. Regular brushing can help manage shedding, but it’s essential to be prepared for some degree of maintenance.

  1. Potential Noise Levels

Tollers are known to be vocal dogs, and they may bark or “toll” (imitate the sound of a fox or other small mammals) when excited or alert. If you live in close quarters with neighbors or have noise restrictions, this breed’s vocal nature can be a concern.

  1. Maturity and Energy

While their energy is a pro for active individuals, it can be a con for those who don’t have the time or energy to keep up with a high-energy dog. Tollers can remain very active well into their adult years, and they may take several years to reach maturity. If you’re looking for a more laid-back companion, this breed might not be the best choice.

  1. Water-Oriented

Duck Tolling Retrievers have a strong natural instinct to be around water, stemming from their hunting heritage. If you live near water, this can be a great advantage. However, it can be a drawback if you don’t have easy access to water or are concerned about a dog that loves to swim getting muddy or wet.

  1. Potential for Separation Anxiety

Due to their affectionate and loyal nature, Tollers can develop separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. This may lead to destructive behaviors, excessive barking, and even house soiling. If your work or lifestyle requires extended periods away from home, you’ll need to plan for appropriate care and stimulation for your Toller.

  1. Grooming and Coat Care

While their coat is relatively low-maintenance, Tollers can be prone to skin issues if not properly cared for. Their waterproof outer coat and dense undercoat can trap moisture, leading to skin problems. Regular grooming and proper drying after water activities are essential to maintain their coat and skin health.

  1. Potential for Stubbornness

While Tollers are intelligent, they can also be stubborn and independent. Training can be challenging if they’re not properly motivated or engaged. Positive reinforcement methods and consistency are crucial for successful training.

  1. Limited Availability

Finding a Toller from a reputable breeder can be a challenge, as they are not as common as some other breeds. It’s essential to research and choose a breeder with a good reputation and a focus on the health and well-being of their dogs. Additionally, rescue organizations may have limited availability.

  1. Prey Drive

The Toller’s strong prey drive can be a disadvantage if you have other small pets, such as cats or rabbits. They may view these animals as prey, and careful supervision and training are necessary to prevent any accidents or conflicts.


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Owning a Duck Tolling Retriever can be a wonderful experience for the right person or family. Their intelligence, loyalty, and affectionate nature make them fantastic companions for active individuals and families. However, their high energy levels and exercise requirements may not be suitable for everyone.

Before deciding to bring a Toller into your life, it’s crucial to carefully consider the pros and cons outlined in this article. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and are prepared to meet their exercise needs, a Toller can be an ideal choice. If you’re looking for a more low-energy or low-maintenance dog, you may need to explore other breeds. Always research and consult with reputable breeders or rescue organizations to ensure that the Duck Tolling Retriever aligns with your expectations and capabilities as a dog owner.


  1. What is a Duck Tolling Retriever?
    • A Duck Tolling Retriever, also known as a Toller, is a breed of retriever originally developed in Nova Scotia, Canada, for retrieving waterfowl.
  2. How did the Duck Tolling Retriever get its name?
    • The breed’s name comes from its unique ability to “toll” or lure ducks by playing along the shoreline, enticing them to come closer to shore.
  3. What is the origin of the Duck Tolling Retriever?
    • The breed was developed in the early 19th century in Nova Scotia, Canada, from various retriever and spaniel breeds.
  4. What is the average size of a Duck Tolling Retriever?
    • Adult Tollers typically stand 17-21 inches (43-53 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh 35-50 pounds (16-23 kg).
  5. Are Duck Tolling Retrievers good family dogs?
    • Yes, Tollers are known for their friendly and playful nature, making them excellent family pets.
  6. Do they get along well with other pets?
    • Duck Tolling Retrievers usually get along well with other dogs and pets if properly socialized from an early age.
  7. How much exercise does a Toller need?
    • Tollers are an active breed and require at least 1-2 hours of exercise daily, including playtime and walks.
  8. Are they good swimmers?
    • Yes, Duck Tolling Retrievers are excellent swimmers and are often used for waterfowl hunting.
  9. Do they shed a lot?
    • Yes, Tollers shed moderately, so regular grooming and brushing are recommended to keep their coat in good condition.
  10. What is the typical lifespan of a Duck Tolling Retriever?
    • The average lifespan of a Toller is 12-14 years with proper care and nutrition.puppy 4736935 1280
  11. Are Duck Tolling Retrievers easy to train?
    • Yes, Tollers are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train, but they do require consistent and positive reinforcement training methods.
  12. Do they have any health issues?
    • Some common health concerns in the breed include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and autoimmune disorders. Responsible breeding can help mitigate these issues.
  13. How often should a Toller be groomed?
    • Regular grooming is recommended, including brushing their double coat at least once a week and occasional baths. Nail trimming and ear cleaning should also be part of regular grooming.
  14. Are Duck Tolling Retrievers good for first-time dog owners?
    • While they are trainable and friendly, first-time owners may find their energy and exercise needs challenging. However, with commitment and effort, they can be a good choice.
  15. Are they good in cold climates?
    • Yes, their dense double coat provides good insulation, making them well-suited for cold climates.
  16. Can they live in apartments?
    • Duck Tolling Retrievers are best suited to homes with a yard due to their energy levels and exercise needs.
  17. Are they prone to separation anxiety?
    • Like many retrievers, they can develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. Proper training and gradual acclimation to being alone can help.
  18. Do they make good hunting dogs?
    • Yes, they are often used as hunting dogs, particularly for waterfowl hunting due to their retrieving instincts and swimming abilities.
  19. Do Duck Tolling Retrievers get along with children?
    • They generally get along well with children when socialized properly, but supervision is always recommended to ensure a safe interaction.
  20. Are they vocal dogs?
    • Duck Tolling Retrievers can be vocal, especially when excited or alert, but they are not typically considered a “barky” breed.
  21. Where can I find a reputable Duck Tolling Retriever breeder?
    • Look for breed clubs, rescue organizations, or consult with veterinarians to find reputable breeders or consider adopting from a rescue organization specializing in this breed. Always do your due diligence when choosing a breeder.
Joanne Smith

Joanne Smith

Dr. Smith's journey into veterinary medicine began in high school, where she gained valuable experience in various veterinary settings, including dairy farms, before pursuing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Afterward, she started as a full-time general practitioner at two different animal hospitals, refining her skills. Later, she established herself as a relief veterinarian, offering essential care when regular veterinarians are unavailable, traveling from one hospital to another. Dr. Smith also excels in emergency animal hospitals, providing vital care during nights and weekends, demonstrating her dedication to the profession.

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