Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever vs. Golden Retriever (Best?)

Are you looking for a loyal, intelligent, active, low-maintenance, and affectionate furry friend? If so, you might feel stuck between the Golden Retriever and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Both breeds could fit into your lifestyle, but which dog is better?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are better if you are looking for a smaller, active dog with few health risks and a long lifespan (12-14 years). In comparison, Golden Retrievers are better for people looking for a large, energetic dog who loves to exercise and does well with strangers.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever vs Golden Retriever

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When it comes down to it, each dog is better for different reasons, and you’ll have to decide which breed will fit best into your lifestyle and home. Below, we’ll discuss what makes each of these breeds unique in great detail That way, you can make the most informed decision when it comes to inviting a new dog into your family.

Golden Retriever: An Overview

According to the American Kennel Club, Golden Retrievers are the 3rd most popular dog in the United States. They are some of the most intelligent, loyal dogs, and because they’re so friendly and devoted to their owners, they’re often used as a therapy dog, hunting dog, or service dog for the blind. Golden Retrievers are generally large dogs, and they can have a long or short hair coat that requires weekly brushing.

Running Golden Retriever
Golden Retriever

Size of a Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers usually get to be very large dogs, with most males growing up to 25 inches (63.5 cm) tall and females up to 22.5 inches (57.15 cm) tall. Since they’re large dogs, they usually need a large yard and living space, meaning they aren’t the most apartment-friendly dogs.

Origin: Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland, where they were used as hunting dogs. In the late 1800s, a man named Dudley Majoribanks — the first Lord Tweedmouth — wanted to breed a dog that could help him retrieve the game he hunted at his estate, which featured marshy areas and rough terrain. Crossbreeding dogs such as the Bloodhound, Irish Setter, Yellow Retriever, and now-extinct tweed Water Spaniel, Majoribanks bred the first Golden Retriever.

The Golden Retriever earned its name because of its soft bite, which enabled these athletic dogs to retrieve small game animals without damaging them with their teeth. By 1908, Golden Retrievers were presented at British dog shows as they gained popularity as hunting dogs and companion dogs. Golden Retrievers became most popular in America in the 1970s after Gerald Ford’s presidency, since his White House Golden Retriever, Liberty, charmed the whole country.

Purpose of a Golden Retriever

With their intense loyalty, Golden Retrievers are some of the most prized guides for the blind. They also make the very best show dogs, hunting dogs, agility dogs, search and rescue dogs, and police dogs. Because they’re non-aggressive and obedient, they do very well around children, strangers, other dogs, and other animals, making them a great choice for a family dog.

Exercise Requirments of Golden Retrievers

With their hunting-dog heritage, Golden Retrievers are very active dogs that require plenty of space to run and frequent walks. If you live in an apartment or will be leaving your dog home alone during the workday, you may not want a Golden Retriever because they need tons of exercise and are prone to experiencing separation anxiety. Still, Golden Retrievers are incredibly stranger-friendly, and they make some of the best office dogs.

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

Life Expectancy and Health Issues of a Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Unfortunately, some health concerns frequently affect this breed as they age. These conditions include epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, hypothyroidism, osteosarcoma, and other issues. So, if you choose to adopt a Golden Retriever, you should ensure that it gets plenty of exercise and maintains a healthy weight if you want it to stay as healthy as possible.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: An Overview

Weighing in a bit smaller and lighter than the Golden Retriever, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (also referred to as a “Duck Toller” or just a “Toller”) is an intelligent, affectionate, and gentle dog that was also bred to retrieve hunting game. Tollers have a remarkable red coat with white markings that require weekly brushing.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Size: Nova Scotia Duck Toller

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are medium-sized dogs. Males usually grow to 21 inches (53.3 cm) tall, while females are generally around 20 inches (50.8 cm) tall. Since they need a lot of activity, they don’t make the best apartment dogs, but Tollers can live in smaller environments if you ensure that they get plenty of walks and opportunities to exercise.

Purpose of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

As their name suggests, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers were initially used for hunting ducks, geese, and other waterfowl. They have webbed feet that make them excellent swimmers, and they employ a unique technique — called tolling — in hunting. Tolling means “to lure” in Old English, and these intelligent dogs use it to draw swimming birds onto the shore so that a hunter can shoot them.

The appearance of the Duck Tolling Retriever mimics that of a fox. The Duck Tolling Retriever crouches down, wagging their tail, which lures curious waterfowl to come onto the shore. Once the unsuspecting ducks and geese reach the shore, they’re shot and then collected by the Retriever.

These small, active dogs are still used in hunting today, but nowadays, they’re primarily family and show dogs. They’re not nearly as popular as the Golden Retriever, but it’s mostly because they were only recognized as a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club in 2003.

These friendly, affectionate, and bright dogs are just as trainable, family-friendly, and low-maintenance as Goldens.

Exercise Requirments: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Tollers, like Golden Retrievers, need a lot of activity to stay happy and healthy. They usually prefer to have a large yard or many walks throughout the day, so staying active is critical if you have a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. They also love swimming, hiking, and running, so if you want an exercise companion, this is the dog for you.

Temperament of a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Tollers develop a strong sense of loyalty to their owners, and they’re incredibly affectionate. Still, they’re usually a bit nervous around strangers and new dogs, so you may need to offer your Toller some extra emotional support when you bring new people and animals into the mix.

Life Expectancy and Health Issues

Top 10 Facts about the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers have a longer life expectancy than Golden Retrievers, and they usually live between 12 and 14 years. They also have very few health risks specific to the breed, so you’ll hardly ever have to worry about your Toller developing a severe medical condition.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever vs. Golden Retriever

So, if you’re still confused about which breed will fit best into your lifestyle and home, here are all of the details. We’ve weighed out all of the pros and cons so that you can find the right canine friend for you.

BreedGolden RetrieverNova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
GroupGun DogGun Dog
HeightMale: 23 – 24 in (58 – 60 cm)
Female: 21.5 – 22.5 in (54 – 57 cm)
Male: 18 – 21 in (45 – 53 cm)
Female: 17 – 20 in (43 – 51 cm)
Weight65 – 75 lbs (29.48 – 34.01 kg) (male)
55 – 65 lbs (24.94 – 29.48 kg) (female)
35 – 50 lbs (15.87 – 22.67 kg)
Life Expectancy10 – 12 Years12 – 14 years
CharacteristicsFriendly Intelligent Obedient Confident  Affectionate Intelligent Playful Gentle Responsive
TrainabilityEasy to trainEasy to train
Kid-friendlyVery child-friendlyVery child-friendly
Stranger-friendlyNot the most stranger-friendlyExtremely stranger-friendly
Activity LevelHighHigh
Space NeedsNeed regular walks, but they don’t mind an apartment lifestyleNeeds plenty of space to run and constant access to outdoor spaces
Prey DriveHigh impulse to chase and catch other animalsLow impulse to catch and chase other animals
GroomingNeeds a weekly brushingNeeds a weekly brushing
Common Breed-Related Health RisksEpilepsy
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis
Von Willebrand’s Disease
OriginsScotlandNova Scotia
Toller vs Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever or Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever?

Ultimately, the best breed is the one that’ll best fit into your lifestyle for the rest of your dog’s life. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are smaller than Golden Retrievers, and they don’t have as many health risks as Golden Retrievers.

Still, they don’t do as well around strangers or other dogs as Golden Retrievers do. Goldens are just as loyal and affectionate as Tollers, but they’re larger, have more health risks, and don’t live as long.

Other Popular Golden Retriever Comparisons


Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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