Maintenance Grooming Your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, or Tollers as they are affectionately called, are the smallest of the retrievers yet, ironically, have the largest name. These dogs were bred to attract ducks and geese into the shooting range of hunters and retrieve the bodies once the prey is shot. This involves a lot of jumping in and out of the water, making their water-resistant coat harsh and protective against the cold. While baths are not a frequent necessity for this breed, it is important to maintain the coat by removing excess undercoat and keeping the feathering clear from mats and tangles.
Start By Checking for Mats
When beginning a grooming session with your Toller, first check for mats. The feathering behind the legs and ears is going to be the main place of concern. If matting is present, there are several options for removal. If aesthetics are not a concern, then removal by trimming or shaving the mat is one solution.
If the mat is sufficiently away from the skin, you could even use thinning shears so that the hole left in the fur is not so dramatic and noticeable. If you prefer to keep as much hair intact as possible, you can break down the mat into smaller pieces by cutting through it with shears or using a dematting comb to saw through it. Once the mat is split several times, you should be able to brush it out with a slicker brush. If the mat continues to give resistance, slice it further into smaller bits until it is easily detached. Once your Toller is mat free, brush through the feathers with a slicker brush to ensure there are no further tangles.
Consider Using a Carding Tool
While the Toller is not as extreme of a shedder as some other breeds, they do benefit from regular removal of dead undercoat. A slicker brush can help pull some of the dead hair out, but you will likely find a carding tool to be a much more efficient method. A carding tool can be as simple as disassembled #40 blade or can be purchased from your local pet supply store, Carding tools are often marketed to the general pet owner as a “shedding aid” or “de-shedder.” With your carding tool in hand, run it in short, quick motions along the neck, back and sides of your dog. These are the areas where excess undercoat is likely to be hiding. Once you have finished, slicker brush the area one last time to ensure that the bulk of the dead hair has been eradicated.
After a quick check of the nails to make sure they have not grown too long and a peek in the ears to make sure they are clean, your Toller will be the best-looking dog on the hunt.