The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR) or toller for short, originates from Canada. They are extremely handsome, powerful and well muscled dogs. They are kind, confident and playful and they make very good agility dogs. They are bred to lure the fowl with their lovely wavy tails so that the game comes within range of the guns. They can then retrieve the fowl. The breed standard for the toller dog says that at the shoulder it should measure 48-51 cm and bitches should be 45-48 cm. This generally puts them in the large category for agility, however, some tollers are small enough to come into the medium category.
The gorgeous Rio (girl) is shown in these two photos.


Tollers have become more popular in the UK and I know people who train them successfully for agility and other disciplines. The tollers below are owned and trained by Janice Russell who has kindly supplied all the photos for this page.  

Rio getting a lovely contact.

Paddy clearing a hurdle.

If youre considering buying a toller puppy or rehoming an adult please think carefully about the time and commitment you need to give to this breed. They are working dogs and they need plenty of exercise. Like most retrievers they are very intelligent and they do like to retrieve. I think this probably applies to just about every retrieving breed and to retriever crosses as well. Jamie, who was part flat coated retriever, had to retrieve at least once every day or he wasn't happy. This involved giving him a job to do such as carrying things up and down stairs or fetching the post. It kept his retrieving instincts satisfied and he loved doing it.

Toller handlers say that these dogs are easy to train and they do love to please. Of course if you love the breed and know it well you will know exactly what to expect.

Like collies tollers can be noisy when they get excited but unlike collies you cant do hours of agility training with them. A little now and again suits them.  In fact I think this applies to most gundogs but Im sure several people will write in now and prove me wrong. Anyway, I think the best people to give comments on the breed are the people who own and train tollers.

Thanks once again to Janice Russell for all these pictures of Rio and Paddy.



Tollers are great for agility but vary in temperament- I have had 2 very easy ones and 2 more difficult, not anything bad, just extra bouncy and over enthusiastic! Generally they need something to use their brains, and don't do repetitive stuff well. Unlike collies who will go on for ever, if you ask a toller to repeat an exercise they often think they must have gone wrong the first time and start to do it differently as they think that is what you must want.Overall brilliant dogs.


I have a 4 month old toller and she is the most adorable, social dog. She loves other dogs and is very playful. She is also very cuddly and calm when she has had enough exercise! She is definitely going to be a serious agility contestant. 4 months only and she already know the tunnel, and is getting better and better at the wave! She also loves learning tricks such as rolling over, giving the paw, crawling and it usually takes her about 20 min to master a new order. Only down side, she can be quite vocal and definitely comments on everything. From the lovely moan when you tickle her tummy to the ear piercing whining when we are not getting ready quick enough for a walky!


Tollers"" are brilliant agility dogs. They are a gun dog in a collie size. They should be 18-20 inches tall so most are large, a few are medium size. They are quick to learn but won't take the repetition that a collie will.

Ian Thompson:

Very intelligent and fast dog, but bores easily. Attention to detail is crucial as they will learn mistakes as easily as the correct way. Food oriented (a retriever!) which can be used to advantage initially. These dogs can't do enough to please you. Basic obedience with a good recall instinct is a MUST before attempting agility training. Like most gundogs, attention span is quite short so training must be ""little and often"" and as fun as possible.

Toller Handlers:

Very popular in Canada, and many at the highest level. There are the right ways, the wrong ways, and the Toller ways of doing things. Usually, the Toller ways are the most efficient.

May not be the fastet dog on course - but, they learn fast, have springs on their feet... and LOVE to work for you -

Have not yet finished training to enter her in a competition. She is easy to train, but has such a high drive that she bolts before being released.

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