About Tollers

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, also known as the Little River Dog, is a true Canadian breed of dog. Tollers are the smallest and most versatile of the retriever breed. Highly intelligent and easy to train, they were developed in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia in the early 1900s. The Toller is a strong and able swimmer and is a natural and persistent retriever both on land and in water. Tollers are a versatile breed but are happiest when they are with their people and have a job to do. They make great sporting dogs, are excellent at agility trials, hunting and most of all, they make loyal and loving companions.

Tollers were originally a mixture of retrievers, spaniels, and setters with possibly farm collie thrown in. The breed was perfected in the latter half of the 19th century and for many years was known as the Little River Duck Dog as that’s where they originally came from in Yarmouth County. After generations of pure breeding, the breed was recognized by The Canadian Kennel Club and christened The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever in 1945. They are the official dog of Nova Scotia. Tollers are one of five breeds of dogs recognized by the CKC as uniquely Canadian: the Tahltan bear dog (now extinct), the Canadian Inuit dog, the Newfoundland dog, the Labrador retriever and of course the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Although the Newfoundland dog and the Labrador retriever have Canadian names, they owe most of their development to breeders in Great Britain and Europe.

In 1988, Canada issued a postage stamp featuring the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.



Tollers are sweet by nature, typically very good with children and make wonderful pets and companions.   It is important to socialize your puppy with adults and children from an early age.  Children can move fast and can be rough, so it is important to teach children how to approach and interact with your dog so everyone is safe.  Tollers are  loving companions, however, they are still a dog and if they feel threatened, like any dog, they will defend themselves.  You should never leave young children unattended with any dog.


High-Energy Breed:

Tollers are a joy in the right hands – but they can be too much dog for someone who is looking for a couch potato.  They are energetic and outgoing with their owners and family, and can be cautious and reserved around strangers.  It is critical to take the time to exposure your Toller puppy to new people, locations, sights, smells and noises as it is crucial for their continued healthy balanced development.

Tollers tend to get along well with other dogs; however, they have a strong prey drive and may chase after cats or other small animals.  This prey drive can be avoided if cats are introduced early in the Toller’s life.  Failure to properly socialize Tollers at a young age may result in aggressive, destructive, or timid behaviour in maturity.



Tollers are super smart!  Tollers learn wickedly fast and they remember things that are important to them. They will never cease to amaze you. When your Toller looks into your eyes, you can see their intelligence and you know they love you (or maybe want to play fetch or want a treat). They’re also sensitive and can pick up on your moods. They have a keen sense of smell and make excellent scent detection dogs.


Sporting Breed:

Tollers are bred to be working dogs. They have a fanatical drive to work, and an abundance of energy. It is CRITICAL to devote time daily to keep that energy channeled in a positive way.  They are exceptionally intelligent and athletic and can excel in a variety of dog sports and activities.  They need to be challenged and engaged by their work, or they get bored and stop paying attention.

It is critical to continue with their socialization.  Tollers are happy, friendly dogs by nature, however they can become cautious if not socialized and exposed to new and different things especially from a young age going forward.


Tollers are generally a healthy breed, thanks to the hard work of reputable breeders that do a battery of health clearances prior to breeding.  These health clearances give the best possible chance of breeding healthy puppies.