Canine Breed Spotlight: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR)

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!

Dog breed group: Sporting Dogs

Average life expectancy: 12-14 years



The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR) was developed in the small community of Little River Harbour,  Nova Scotia, for tolling and retrieving ducks for hunters, hence the breed’s name. Before its recognition by the CKC as a pure bred dog, it was know as the Little River Duck Dog. The Micmac Indians encouraged the tolling behavior in their dogs based on the actions of foxes along the shores of the rivers. The hunters then started with the Micmac Indian dogs, and mixed them with other retriever breeds to create a breed that would both attract the ducks as well as retrieve them.  The NSDTR was declared the provincial dog of Nova Scotia in 1995.


The NSDTR is a friendly natured, high energy breed. They are very playful and quick moving. They need plenty of exercise, both physical and mental. They enjoy fetching, swimming, agility, and tracking. Even though they are smart, they are also easily bored and distracted. This can make training difficult if you don’t establish yourself as the leader of the pack. They make good family dogs and are also good around other household pets.

Is this breed right for you?

  • They are shedders and do blow their coat seasonally. They can be messy, as they like to swim, roll and get dirty.
  • NSDTR can be loud. They have a signature scream they let out when they are excited.
  • They can be destructive if they get bored. They need a lot of exercise and interaction. This is not a great breed for someone who does not have time to dedicate to keeping this breed active and stimulated.


Health concerns

Both pure-bred and mixed-breed dogs have varying incidences of health problems that may be either influenced by genetics or environmental factors. Here are some health concerns that are more commonly seen in the NSDTR.

Eye concerns such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) can be a concern in this breed. This is a genetic disease that causes the retina to degenerate in both eyes, leading to progressive vision loss and ultimately blindness.

Hip dysplasia is a congenital disorder where the hip joint socket is abnormally loose. Dogs inherit the condition from their parents. Hip dysplasia will cause your dog to experience joint pain or laxity in the hind end.

Hypothyroidism can be a health concern in this breed. It is a hormonal disorder in dogs in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.