Origins of the Toller

The exact history of the Toller is somewhat unclear but is known that "smallish ginger-coloured decoy dogs" were used for centuries in Europe to lure ducks into nets. These "red decoy dogs" could very well be fore-runners of today's Toller. Other breeds thought to be in the Toller's ancestry include Brittany, Irish Setter, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever and some small type of Collie. However it was done, the cross breeding produced a fox-like dog with the desired working abilities which became known as the Little River Duck Dog after Nova Scotia's district of Yarmouth County, the centre of the breed's development. Nova Scotia is considered the place of origin of this breed and in 1945 it was officially recognised by the Canadian Kennel Club as the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

The Tolling dog runs, jumps & plays along the shoreline in full view of ducks or geese, the dog's playful actions arouse the curiosity of the ducks swimming offshore and they are lured within gunshot range. The Toller is subsequently sent out to retrieve dead or injured birds.

They were first introduced into Great Britain from Canada in 1988 by Miss Geraldine Flack. Mr Mike French also imported a bitch from Canada. Miss Flack then imported another dog from Sweden, and further imports were made from Holland and Sweden by Mr John Norris of Nacton Decoy to help enlarge the gene pool.

The Toller is a medium sized, powerful, balanced, well muscled dog. Medium to heavy in bone, with a high degree of agility, alertness and determination. Many Tollers have a slightly sad expression until they go to work, when their aspect changes to intense concentration and excitement. At work the dog has a speedy, rushing action with the head carried out almost level with the back and a heavily feathered tail in constant motion.

The Toller is highly intelligent, easy to train and has great endurance. A strong and able swimmer he is a natural and tenacious retriever on land and from water, setting himself for springy action the moment the slightest indication is given that retrieving is required. His strong retrieving desire and playfulness are qualities essential to his Tolling ability.

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