Precious little is known about the evolution or ancestry of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, formerly known as the 'Little River Duck Dog' or the 'Tolling Red Decoy Dog,' although it is widely thought to have developed in Yarmouth County, Canada, in the Little River Harbour. Popular theory suggests that native Micmac Indians selectively crossed Chesapeake Bay and Flat-Coated Retrievers with Labrador and Golden Retrievers in order to shape a dog that could effectively lure waterfowl within shooting range and then retrieve it, mimicking the manner of the fox. Dating the origin of the breed is uncertain, but in 1955 it was declared the provincial dog of Nova Scotia. Officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 2003.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Nova Scotia is an athletic gundog breed, boasting well-muscled legs, a deep chest, a prominent forehead and muzzle, large pendant ears and a low-set, heavily feathered tail. The coat is dense, typically straight with a slight wave, and appears in colour deviations of orange and red, usually with white markings on the chest, feet and tail-end. It is speculated the breed is related to the Kooikerhondje, and it is not hard to see why, with its similar shape, structure and colouring. Needless to say, the Novia Scotia has a natural affinity with water, being a capable and enthusiastic swimmer. It is aided in this by its thick coat, serving to insulate the Nova Scotia from icy waters and protecting it from bites and rough sea-bed.
Uncommonly seen outside its native land, the Nova Scotia is still utilised as a water retriever, retaining its early hunting instincts. Highly intelligent and trainable, the breed is recently observed in the domestic setting, proving itself as a versatile and adaptable companion dog. With a gentle and relaxed temperament, the Nova Scotia is the ideal breed choice for active families or a dedicated sole owner, being inherently protective of children and compatible with other house pets when introduced gradually. The modern Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is also observed in field trials, tracking, obedience, conformation and agility. Weighing an average of 17-23 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 12-14 years.
Typically healthy and resilient, the Nova Scotia is relatively low maintenance when it comes to supporting optimum health. As with most breeds, however, cases of hip dysplasia, optical disorders and cancers have been identified in the breed, as well as documented cases of von Willebrand's Disease, a rare bleeding disorder. Additionally, thyroid inactivity, hormonal disorders and Addison's Disease have been identified.
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