Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)

Last updated February 2003

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Medium sized, compact. Powerful, well muscled. A heavily feathered tail, constantly moving.


Jumps and plays to lure waterfowl into decoy. Retrieves dead and wounded birds. Strong swimmer.


Kind, confident, intelligent, easy to train. Playful.

Head and skull

Clean cut skull, slightly wedge shaped. Broad, slightly rounded. Occiput not prominent. Cheeks flat. Moderate stop. Muzzle tapers from stop to nose. Nostrils well developed. Nose flesh coloured or black.


Medium size, almond-shaped, set well apart. Friendly, alert expression. Brown to amber, blending with coat colour. Eye rims flesh coloured or black.


Triangular, dropped ear of medium size. Set high and well back on skull. Base held very slightly erect. Well feathered at back of fold, hair shorter at rounded tips.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Teeth sound and strong. Softness of mouth essential. Lips tight fitting, flesh coloured or black.


Medium length, strongly muscled, well set on, no indication of throatiness.


Shoulders well laid back, muscular, medium length. Elbows close to body. Forelegs straight and strong. Pasterns strong, slightly sloping.


Deep chested, ribs well sprung, brisket reaches to elbow. Back short, level topline. Loins strong and muscular. Moderate tuck up.


Well muscled. Stifles well bent, hocks well let down turning neither in nor out.


Medium size, round, tight. Toes well arched and strongly webbed. Pads thick, blending with coat colour.


Set on, slightly sloping towards croup. Broad at base, well feathered; reaching the hock. Carried below level of back at rest; when alert, curves over, not touching back.


Impression of power, springy, jaunty with good reach of forelegs and strong rear drive; parallel movement fore and aft. Single tracks at speed; head carried almost level with back.


Straight, repellent, double coat of medium length and softness with a softer, dense undercoat. Slight wave on back allowed. Feathering at throat, behind ears and at back of thighs. Forelegs moderately feathered.


All shades of red or orange with lighter featherings and underside of tail. White markings usual in at least one of the following places: tip of tail, feet not extending beyond the pasterns, chest and blaze. Lack of white not to be penalised. Any black in coat, buff colour or buff and white highly undesirable.


Ideal height: dogs: 48-51 cms (19-20 ins); bitches: 45-48 cms (18-19 ins).


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.