Nova Scotia Duck Tollers

Cali Mae

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#1
I won't be getting another dog until likely after undergrad, since that is when I'll be going to grad school and moving to where I will hopefully stay, but I've been doing some thinking on potential dog breeds... mostly just for fun. :p

I've always been a fan of Aussies, but after thinking about it, I'm extremely interested in Tollers as well. Plus living in the maritimes, there seems to be quite a few quality breeders and so it would be easy for me to go and meet the dogs of different breeders when the time came.

Going from what I've read on various websites and even some threads on here, I haven't seen any traits that I would dislike. I saw them described as "comedians" and I loved that.

My main wants in a dog would be:
- Medium sized
- Moderate to slightly high levels of energy
- Coat length isn't important
- Not super serious
- Trainable and at least somewhat biddable
- Can get along with other dogs
- Gets along with people (aloofness is perfectly fine)

As far as dog sports go, I'll likely have access to dog training facilities, as I plan on living in BC or Ontario for school, so I would definitely be doing obedience classes and potentially another dog sport depending on what interests the dog. But for the most part, it'll just be fun things like hikes and beaches, etc.

I also know some breeds have different play styles and honestly my only concern would be getting along with Cali. Although at this point, I'm not sure if I'll bring her because she will be eight by that point and it'll be more about what's best for her and she's extremely happy living at home so I don't know if I would want to uproot her from that. But either way, being able to be around small dogs is also a big thing although I'm sure most of that will just be training the dog to not harass her or jump on her, etc.

Thank you in advance for the responses! :)
 
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#2
I can't wait to hear responses from Toller people here because I LOVE this breed. When I lived in Ontario, I went to a trainer who bred wonderful tollers. They were beautiful, biddable, lovely-tempered animals.

Strangely (or maybe not?) most tollers I met outside that situation were not so even tempered. They seemed more...high strung?

My neighbour had one that was a great dog, even tempered for sure, but very border collie-like ....intense, high high energy. Oh, and he SCREAMED for barking. I've never heard anything quite like that. Wasn't super friendly with anyone outside his family. Neighbour used to say that people saw the dog and thought he'd be friendly like a golden retriever, but that just wasn't the case. Very aloof.

So...im not sure what's normal! They arent super popular dogs even in their native Canada, but there was a fair number in SW Ontario, and the range of personalities was interesting to experience. Perhaps our trainer's dogs were just calm during a night class after a full day of training, agility, and hunting, I'm not sure. Maybe the border collie-like dog is the norm, or maybe the less even tempered dogs I met are the norm...or maybe were a result of poor breeding or lack of exercise. I'll be interested to hear what Toller_08 says because I just love pics of her Dance :)
 

Toller_08

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#3
I've lived with four Tollers (three from the same breeder, one from animal services who was sent back for severe aggression) and one Toller mix, and they've all been very different from one another. I've also been around many others and they also differed quite a bit. Even within the same lines.

All in all though I'd say that a Toller should fit all of your requirements. I'd definitely recommend meeting some and getting a feel for the breed as they really are a breed that you either mesh with or you don't. I know that there are some not so great breeders in Nova Scotia, but there are a few good ones around as well.

As a whole, yes, they're definitely comedians. They're very silly and playful and almost everything in life is a game. Tollers are by far the most fun breed I've ever been around. They exude joy and happiness. That said, Dance and Fennec (the puppy I raised for a while for her breeder) both knew when it was time for fun and games and when it was time to focus a bit more and be as serious as they could be. Another one that I had was so shut down that I am not going to really include my experience with her as I don't know that I really got to know her true personality.

They're a lot of fun to train. A little bit frantic in my experience, vs say how my Aussies or my Toller/Border Collie mix focused and think hard. The Tollers kind of flail around excitedly thinking about everything at once and offering everything they have haha. I think it's hilarious and Dance is one of my favourite dogs to work with. Fen was too.

I do find Tollers in general to be fairly soft, though. Dance is not even a little, which is one of my favourite traits about her. But almost every other one I've been around has been soft and tend to do best with people who are always up abs happy and not intimidating. Dance, however, has never shut down on me and is not easily offended by anything. She gives everything as much as she has no matter what when learning or playing a sport.

As a breed, they seem to have a low tolerance level for ill mannered dogs. Many are not great dog park type dogs once they mature. When they're young most seem dog social, but as mature adults most of the ones I've known can be fairly snarky with strange dogs. I think this is pretty normal for most dogs though, regardless of breed.

Dance is people reactive. She actually does like people once she gives herself a chance to realize that, but her first reaction to anyone new is to bark and growl and not approach regardless of the amount of time and effort I've spent trying to make people indifferent for her. I also strongly feel that shyness is far too prevalent in the breed and that some breeders and owners appear to have a hard time differentiating between shy and reserved. That said, Tollers are simply supposed to be aloof toward those they don't know, which I like. Just make sure you find a breeder striving for correct temperament.

Don't compare Tollers to herding breeds. A lot of people do, and maybe they come across as being similar to Border Collies and/or Aussies (those are the two comparisons I hear the most) to those that don't live with Tollers, but they're really not alike. They think and act in entirely different ways. Tollers are very much a sporting dog.

Most Tollers are busy dogs but should be easy to live with in the home and up for anything outside of the home. Dance is an oddball and isn't very active. She gets excited to go and do stuff but then once we get to our destination she's like "oh, hiking? I'll just wait for you guys here" haha. She does love a good game of fetch though. For a while. And then she has better sniffy things to do.

All except one Toller that I've known have been alert barkers. Some scream in excitement and it's awful, but I haven't had an obnoxious screamer. My Dobermans have screamed and whine and carry on more than any other breed I've had.

I am just on my way to work and I'm sure I am forgetting a lot of stuff I'd normally want to tell you! So if you have any specific questions, please let me know. I love the breed. I've obviously become an Aussie person now but Tollers will always be my second favourite breed and I'd like to think that I'll always have room for one along with my Aussies.

(Also, sorry for any ridiculous typos haha. My phone is not the brightest and likes making dumb errors.)
 

Cali Mae

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#4
That was a very informative reply, so thank you! I do have some further questions. :)

As I'm hoping to go to grad school in BC, I am thinking I will probably end up getting a breeder from there. I briefly looked into one that I found: Tollchester, and from what I saw, they looked good. Any specific recommendations for breeders in BC, as well as in NS?

Also, what sort of testing is generally required in the breed? I noticed Tollchester's dogs were screened for numerous things but I'm not sure what the essentials are in terms of testing. Additionally, are there strong show lines vs field lines, etc. in the breed? I imagine I will want to go for a breeder who does fieldwork/dog sports over one that just shows but I am wondering if there's any real differences.

Last question, for now, pertaining to breeders, what time in the process is best to contact one? I am thinking a year ahead? Since I'll probably move out in the summer after I graduate undergrad and would likely get a dog during the summer before classes start.

You mentioned how different sporting dogs and herding dogs are... what are the main differences you've noticed personally, or have heard from others?

And you did say they're generally intolerant of rude dogs, how do they do in a daycare environment? I'm not too sure how the schedule will be for me in grad school, but my aunt sends her two ACDs to daycare while she's at work and so it's something I would want to look into instead of just leaving the dog at home while I'm at school during the day, although maybe when she's a bit older and not as likely to pick up on bad habits.

I'm glad to hear aloofness is a relatively consistent trait in the breed. I have been there and done that with the people loving with Cali and I would much rather have a dog who loves me and not everyone on the planet. :rolleyes:

Additionally, would they be fine in an apartment presuming they get other exercise? I'll be living with my boyfriend hopefully if everything goes to plan, in which case we might potentially have a house... but it's more likely that I will be in an apartment or some sort of rental house.

I don't think I ever would've thought of the breed though, had I not seen pictures of Dance and Fennec. My old science teacher in high school had one but he was only a puppy during her time teaching at my school... she adored him though from what I could tell. I also am positive I can remember seeing one on my way to classes one day, which isn't too surprising since they did originate here... but I had never seen one while living in New Brunswick so I had to do a double take. If I ever see it being walked again, I'll have to see if the owner will let me meet him/her.
 
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Cali Mae

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#5
Also some good breeders in Ontario... trying to cover all my bases since the puppy will probably come from one of those three areas.
 
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#6
When we lived in Halifax, our neighbors got a Toller from a breeder somewhere in the province. Not sure where exactly, could have been right in Halifax.

Anyway, that dog was the opposite of good tempered. SCREAMED all the time, was rather aggressive towards people, just awful. It looked far too big for a Toller too, though it was registered. The breeder said all the right things, etc.

So just make sure you get to meet a lot of the breeders dogs. Actually, i could ask my old neighbor where they got their dog.

Having said that, there is a toller at a local class here that I see, and it is just lovely. Basically the opposite of the other one.
 
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#7
Eh, I'm sticking with my one experience where the Toller was border collie-like. And I say that as someone who has owned BCs.

Seems like a lot of variation in the breed.
 

Cali Mae

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#8
It sounds like it'll definitely be super important for me to meet the breeder's dogs before securing a place on a waitlist then. I definitely don't want to end up with an unstable puppy, and ideally not one with crazy high energy.

My boyfriend's family lives extremely close to the Tollchester breeder so I'm thinking if they're a quality breeder and I end up going to grad school in BC, they might be my best option since it would be super convenient to meet their dogs. Or I could meet the dogs of breeders in the maritimes and possibly just drive out when I go to grad school, bringing the puppy with me. Since ideally, I would have the puppy sometime after I graduate undergrad school and will have the summer to work with him/her on training.
 

Toller_08

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#9
Just on my way home but I'll answer your questions as soon as possible!

Eh, I'm sticking with my one experience where the Toller was border collie-like. And I say that as someone who has owned BCs.

Seems like a lot of variation in the breed.
I am genuinely curious as to how the Tollers you experienced were similar to Border Collies? I don't mean that rudely at all. I actually am curious. Before I got one I was expecting a Border Collie like dog, and mine isn't at all similar and nor are any others I know. So maybe it's different lines. I mean I guess some could be similar. It's just not been my experience.
 

Toller_08

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#10
I'm not a big fan of discussing breeders publicly where they can't speak for themselves. I do have a few favourite breeders in BC; one of which I almost got a second Toller from in 2012 before deciding on a Koolie and then changing my mind and getting Journey. I don't think convenience should be a top priority when choosing a breeder, especially in this breed. I've met more sketchy Tollers than one would think possible. They're not supposed to be, but many are, and for that reason I'd not only look at breeders who are close but also ones who are a bit further if need be. I'd contact breeders probably 6 months to a year in advance to see what litter plans might be. Tollers are not uncommon anymore, especially on the west coast so waiting on a puppy shouldn't take any longer than most other breeds. But you'll want to have time to do your research and find a breeder that suits you, etc.

I find that most breeders are breeding versatile Tollers. Some breeders breed dogs more for working purposes but overall, there isn't a huge breed split (in Canada anyway).

Health clearance wise, minimally you want at least hips, elbows, patellas, PRA, CEA, thyroid, Degenerative Myelopathy, CP1 (cleft palate) and many breeders test for more. Dance's breeder does every test available to Tollers which I really admire.

As far as dog daycare goes, I don't believe in typical dog daycare after working in a couple of them so my opinion may be biased. It seems difficult to find a good dog daycare. I think whether or not a Toller would do well though would greatly depend on the dog. Dance would have loathed daycare. Her least favourite thing is playing with other dogs, and she'd have been miserable. Some Tollers would probably be fine. When I worked in daycare there were a couple of Tollers who didn't seem to mind being there. But overall I find Tollers to be very people oriented. They like to play and interact with their people or by themselves and most seem uninterested in playing with groups of dogs they don't know well. Not all, though.

I think apartment living would depend on the dog, but yes, provided with enough outdoor time I think most Tollers would be just fine. All of the ones I've lived with or dog sat were or are fairly relaxed around the house and don't need space, and I don't leave my dogs outside in the yard either so while I've not lived in an apartment I don't see why it wouldn't be possible.

As far as differences between herding and sporting dogs, honestly I find it difficult to explain. I feel like it's something that needs to be experienced. I just find that they have an entirely different type of energy. My herding dogs are much more serious and thinking and sporting breeds typically seem more extroverted and dorky and focus differently. It's hard to explain. I didn't really realize the difference until I got my Aussies and compared to the Tollers in my life.

I hope that helps! I'm tired haha.
 

JessLough

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#11
As far as Ontario breeders, I've really liked Dragonluck kennels, based just outside of Ottawa. I've had long discussions with them and met a few of their dogs and loved them. I'm not 100% sure what they do testing wise.
 

Cali Mae

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#12
Their website doesn't say anything about testing so I guess I would have to ask!

I have found a few good breeders in Ontario though and I'll have to find some in Alberta too. I figure I will end up in either BC, Alberta, or Ontario for grad school... if I'm lucky.
 

hiero

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#13
. . . I don't think convenience should be a top priority when choosing a breeder, especially in this breed. I've met more sketchy Tollers than one would think possible. They're not supposed to be, but many are, and for that reason I'd not only look at breeders who are close but also ones who are a bit further if need be. I'd contact breeders probably 6 months to a year in advance to see what litter plans might be. Tollers are not uncommon anymore, especially on the west coast so waiting on a puppy shouldn't take any longer than most other breeds. But you'll want to have time to do your research and find a breeder that suits you, etc.

I find that most breeders are breeding versatile Tollers. Some breeders breed dogs more for working purposes but overall, there isn't a huge breed split (in Canada anyway).

Health clearance wise, minimally you want at least hips, elbows, patellas, PRA, CEA, thyroid, Degenerative Myelopathy, CP1 (cleft palate) and many breeders test for more. Dance's breeder does every test available to Tollers which I really admire.
. . .
The only Tollers I have known were a beautiful pair at a local trail area which serves as our local "dog park". They were a bit stand-offish, but well-mannered, and I thought they were beautiful. Back then, a couple of years back, I was just beginning to consider other dogs, as our old hound was getting on.

I did some online research. I noticed that Tollers have something of an online reputation for health issues and short life spans. As it is an ONLINE reputation, you know that this is almost certainly not the whole story, but where there is smoke, eh? So, I like Toller_08's focus on testing.

It also seemed to me that most of the breeders were in the Maritimes. So, a breeder or breeder(s) in BC? I'm shocked! But then, I have a Canaan dog breeder as a "neighbor" downriver in CT (I'm in MA). And Canaan dogs are from, well, Canaan! (Israel).

IMO, the advice to visit the breeders beforehand rings true, a thousand times. If I were seeking a particular breed, I would visit as many breeders as possible. My experience with dog breeders goes back 50 years, to when I was a youngster, and my mother was a breeder. You need to know the dogs your future buddy will be coming out of.

The only other comment I have, is that it seems to me that a lot of the answers to your questions are going to be determined by the individual dog you get, more than the breed.
 

Dekka

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#14
Living in Ontario and doing agility and obedience I have got to spend a lot of time with tollers. I agree meet the breeder's dogs. Talk to people who have their dogs. Be clear with the breeder what you are looking for. There does seem to be a lot of variety. Toller said most she had met were soft, and I would have said most I know are not soft. Maybe not very hard but not soft. What I really like about them is that they know when to be serious. And I like srs dogs. I was on a wait list for a toller once. Then I got JRTs...

I can't wait to hear responses from Toller people here because I LOVE this breed. When I lived in Ontario, I went to a trainer who bred wonderful tollers. They were beautiful, biddable, lovely-tempered animals.
Oooh who did you train with? Linda? Sue? lol
 
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#15
+1 you need to meet dogs, and meet the breeder's dogs. Tollers are great dogs on paper - great size, biddable, playful, active, good drives for sports - but they're a personality you either like or you don't. It's not just the screaming thing (which isn't *such* a big deal if you stay on top of it), there's just something about them that you either click with or you don't.

I don't find them very herder like at all. IMO they're more like spaniels than other retrievers or herders. My field trainer's working cockers remind me very strongly of how my dogs work, much more so than how my friend's Goldens work.

I love the breed, I got one and then intentionally went out and paid good money for a second one, but they're a dog where you will be much happier if you love the breed more than the sport. If you want a dog for competition in a sport, or for doing hunting work, there are other breeds that are more likely to have individuals capable of excelling in that venue.
 
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