The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (toller) is the smallest of the retrieving breeds. It is a powerful, compact, balanced and well muscled dog with a high degree of agility and determination. This breed is a great size which makes for an ideal pet for an active family, as well as an agile and eager sporting or hunting companion.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was developed in Nova Scotia, Canada to toll (or lure) and retrieve waterfowl. The toller duplicates the actions of the eastern fox by running, jumping, and playing along the shoreline in full view of a flock of ducks, occasionally disappearing from sight and then quickly reappearing. The dog’s playful actions lure the curious ducks within gunshot range. The dog is then sent to retrieve the downed bird.
Tollers have become popular partly due to their size (which is small, compared to any of the other retriever breeds), combined with their intelligence, versatility and strong working drive. Size and visual appeal should not be the determining factor in selecting a Toller. I will warn you that this is not the best choice of dog for sedentary people! The Toller is a high-energy, working breed that needs lots of mental stimulation and exercise. For people who don't like dog hair, be warned: these dogs shed. In fact, they shed a great deal. To minimize “ginger snowdrifts" around the house, regular brushing is a must.
Many tollers have a slightly sad expression until they go to work, their aspect then changes to intense concentration and excitement. The toller is a natural swimmer with a strong desire to retrieve. He is loving and playful to his family, however, might seem reserved with strangers without being aggressive. Despite its boundless energy and strong desire to work, the Toller should not be stereotyped as "just" a hunting dog. This breed excels in all obedience and high-energy dog sports, including field trials, agility and flyball. Much like Border Collies, they can be equally happy in rural or urban settings provided their needs for work (and play) and for sufficient exercise are met. I tend to describe these dogs as "Border Collies with an on/off switch."