Does a Duck Tolling Retriever need Grooming?

Does a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Need Grooming

Does a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Need Grooming?

The Toller is a dog that does not need much care, but occasional brushing is wise. Besides brushing they need some trimming of the feet, heels, and ears. You can take your dog to a grooming salon but you can also do it yourself. So, does a Duck Tolling Retriever need Grooming? The answer is yes.

The best way is to start grooming when your Toller is still a puppy. Let him or her get used to the brush, the scissors, touching, stroking, looking at their teeth by opening their mouths, etc. This will make the grooming experience a relaxed one for dog and human, your grooming salon will be thankful too if you decide to take your dog there! 

Some dogs love to be brushed and groomed. My Toller Stippy isn’t a big fan but he’ll endure it. I brush our dog Stippy once a week and when he’s molting every other day. While brushing, you can check the fur and skin of your Toller for wounds or parasites. It also gives you the chance to check whether the ears are clean. The thick coat and undercoat keep your Toller warm and will offer protection against all kinds of external influences. Abundant hairs on the legs and ears can easily be thinned, see the “trimming advice” later on in this blog.

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming?

How do I Brush my Toller?

Start by putting your puppy or dog on a table and let him or her stand up. It’s easier to brush and groom a dog when he or she is standing also, it will make the experience for your dog much better. Having a young pup standing for a longer period is difficult, I know but don’t give up. In the beginning, have someone help you by holding the puppy and reward him or her with some yummy treats for standing still. Your pup will learn and will get more relaxed in time.

There are several types of brushes you can use, each has its purpose. Begin brushing using a slicker brush. Brush the entire body or your dog, head, back, belly, chest, paws, tail, behind the ears, in the armpits and between the back legs. These last 3 mentioned spots are spots where matting can be formed so important to brush as well to prevent that. Brush gently down to the skin, a small section at the time and be careful not to brush too firm or it can hurt your dog. Brush with the direction the hair grows. A dog groomer, who is a friend of mine, told me it is best to start brushing at the bottom and work your way up, start at the end of the dog and work towards the front. 

After you’ve finished brushing you can start combing your Toller by using a stainless steel combination comb which has wide-spaced teeth and one end and narrow-spaced teeth and the other end. Start combing with the wide end and once it glides through the coat repeat the combing with the narrow end so you can comb away any tangles or knots that can lead to matting. 

Adult Tollers shed during shedding season which is twice a year around Spring and Autumn. You’ll know it’s that time of the year again when you find more red Toller hair than usual on your floor and couch and your vacuum cleaner is used a lot more! In these periods the dead undercoat of your Toller needs to be brushed out. The best tool to use for that is an undercoat rake. I use that on my Toller Stippy and it brushes out the dead, dull hair very easily and will save you a lot of grooming time. Be gentle when using the undercoat rake and pull away from the skin, not rake into the skin or you can hurt your dog. 

How Often Does My Toller Need a Bath?

It is not advisable to wash your Toller regularly because the shampoo detracts natural skin oils from your dog. That does not mean that it is never allowed of course. If you want to bathe your Toller every week, or maybe need to because your little ginger has rolled in something dirty again, make sure you use  a mild shampoo especially for dogs with conditioners. On average, bathing a Toller once every 1 – 3 months is fine. Bathing is not a necessity. I know people who never bathe their Toller because the coat “cleans naturally”. When the coat dries the dirt, sand and mud will fall off. Most Tollers love swimming so if you regularly let your Toller swim in clean water, the coat will remain beautiful and washing is unnecessary.

For Tollers, it’s best to give them a shower instead of a bath. They have double coats and because of that, it’s almost impossible to get all the shampoo out of the coat unless you shower them. Bathing them in standing water is fine as long as you can rinse them off with a hand-held shower sprayer to rinse away all the shampoo.

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? Bathing

When bathing a puppy make sure to use a good quality mild shampoo. You can bathe them in the sink, to begin with, and as they grow you can use the bathtub or shower. Because they are so young they can get used to the experience of bathing and learn it is a positive thing. The coat of a puppy dries fast but to prevent them from cooling down too much dry them off as quickly as possible. Never put shampoo directly on the coat. Make sure your puppy or adult dog is fully wet before you apply shampoo.

Scrub your dog thoroughly, the head (make sure to avoid soap in the eyes!), ears, face, tail, armpits, everywhere. You must get all the shampoo rinsed out otherwise your puppy or adult dog can get flaky skin. I always rinse my dog twice to make sure all the shampoo is gone.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Trimming advise

The Toller is a Retriever species with a double coat: An undercoat that insulates against heat, cold and water and an outer coat that protects the skin, for example when the dog runs through dense bushes. The Toller coat does not need much maintenance, the dog should look natural and normal. Still, some parts need to be trimmed to give the Toller a well-cared for and functional appearance. I decided to buy a trimming kit (link to check the price on Amazon) to groom our Toller Stippy.

Trimming Duck Toller Ears

On top of and behind the ears of the Toller grows long hair that can form tangles if not shortened. These hairs are usually pluckable and plucking is also the best technique for this. The pluckable hairs are long, soft, wavy and usually slightly lighter in color. First, take a hold of a few of those hairs, raise them up, then grab the end of a tuft of hair between your thumb and forefinger and pull the hairs down with a quick movement. These are dead hairs so it doesn’t hurt the dog when pulled. At most, it can cause a bit of skin irritation due to the pulling movement. To prevent this irritation, hold the skin tightly on the skull above the ear with the other hand before you start plucking.

It is easier to pick small tufts of hair several times instead of large pieces at once. So regularly comb the hair that is to be plucked and always pick small pieces. The hair on top of the ear is usually a little longer than at the tip, but clearly of the same structure and therefore not pluckable. The hair at the tip and the edge of the ears can be carefully cut with small scissors if they are sticking out a bit.

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? Ears

The same long, pluckable hairs that grow on top of the ear also grow behind and below the ear. These hairs can be plucked in the same way. In these spots make sure not to pick too much hair to prevent a gap or a bold spot behind the ear. So when plucking there, regularly check how the ear fits and then determine whether more should be plucked or not. The hairs and fur as a whole should look well connected. Especially with males, a collar also forms there, the hairs are naturally long and not all should be plucked.

Finally, you can lift the ear up and slightly shorten the hair under the ear canal. You’ll need scissors for this. I’ve bought a scissor kit (click here for the link to Amazon) which I use on a regular basis and makes trimming life so much easier! Make a few cuts with the scissors that follow the direction of growth of the hair or go directly against it. Then you comb the hair down and see if it fits properly again. This section does not need to be cut very short, but it is less conspicuous so that the ear fits better. With too much shortening, the overall look of the ear will look “cut out” which should be prevented.

Trimming Duck Toller Feet

Between the soles of the feet, the hair grows over the soles of the feet. This hair is usually cut short to align with the soles of the feet themselves. This gives a cleaner image but is also more pleasant for your Toller. Dogs sweat through the soles of their feet so it is better and more comfortable for them when their feet and soles are free of long hair. In the winter, these long hairs can also cause the formation of ice between the soles of the feet that will irritate the dog. In the Spring and Summer, long hairs on the feet and paws can pick up grass spikes which can be very irritating and even dangerous for your dog if they are not picked out of their hair quickly.

For cutting the feet you use straight scissors, the size does not matter much but a small pair of scissors is more pleasant due to the small surface. To prevent accidental damage to the skin, cut with the blade of the scissors, not the tip. Keep the blade flat on the section to be cut and the tip directed outwards. This way, you’ll cut the hair between the soles of the feet and the outer edges. For the largest, upper sole, bring the hairs down, from top to bottom. The hairs which fall over the sole need to be cut away on that line with the straight scissors.

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? feet

On the front legs, there is an extra cushion above the foot, at the height of the wrist. The hair that grows between that cushion and the foot is trimmed with thinning shears. Such scissors have a normal blade and a blade with a kind of comb, this means that the fur is thinned evenly instead of cut straight as normal with straight scissors do. Hold the front leg by the forefoot and comb the hair between the foot and upper cushion first before you cut. Then you epilate the hair there in a straight line from the foot to the very tip of the cushion so that it gradually becomes longer and overflows into the feathering of the front leg.

When the foot is back on the ground, you can use a straight pair of scissors to adjust the lower edges of the foot so that no tufts stick out. Be careful not to cut away too much, you should not be able to see the cushion clearly from the side of the foot.

The hair between the toes must be shortened to the top of the foot. To do this, we lift the hairs between the toes, making sure that you only lift the long, soft hairs between the toes. Next, hold the single scissors flat on the foot, cut the hairs against the direction of the hair growth with the point of the scissors towards the dog.

A few short snaps on the foot (not between the toes) and then drop the coat again and see if more needs to be cut away. You can use a normal comb to lift the hairs. Here, too, the overall look must be natural, the Toller has a so-called “cat foot”: round with well-connected toes. It is therefore important not to cut away too much hair and not to cut between the toes. The result is a round, closed foot with neat, straight edges and no protruding tufts.

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? paw

Trimming Duck Toller Heels

The hair on the back of the heels grows longer and it is desirable to shorten this with a small curved shear. For this, you first comb the hair straight back so that the hairs protrude. Then place the scissors at the top of the heel, pointing vertically downwards. Cut down several times in a straight line, cutting the hair completely to one length. Regularly comb the hair back to get an overview of what still needs to be shortened. Shorten well from all sides until the coat on the heel forms a neat overall look.

Trimming Duck Toller Nails

The nails need to be trimmed at least every 2 – 4 weeks unless your dog walks a lot on hard surfaces like pavements, this will wear the nails so they can be cut with longer time in between the trimming. On average it must be done every 2- 4 weeks and if you’ll do it yourself it is recommended to buy a nail trimmer that is suitable for large dogs. Be very careful to not cut into the life of a nail! That will hurt and bleed a lot. If you don’t want to cut the nails yourself go to your local dog grooming salon or vet for a nail trim on a regular basis. I do that as well. If the groomer doesn’t have time I’ll go to the vet and have Stippy’s nails done. 

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? teeth

Teeth brushing Duck Tolling Retriever

An important part of the care of your Toller that is often overlooked is the care of the teeth. If the dog’s teeth are not clean he will have bad breath but more importantly, poor oral hygiene can result in all kinds of diseases, discomfort, and pain. Dogs with dirty teeth can suffer from mouth infections. Periodontitis if not controlled, can result in infections that can occur in important organs such as kidneys, liver, brain, and heart. Other problems such as mouth ulcers and loose teeth can also be caused by poor oral hygiene.

You can prevent all these unpleasant problems by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. Do not use toothpaste for people, but toothpaste and toothbrushes that have been specially developed for dogs. It is best to start learning this method of dental care at a young age. Our Toller Stippy loves the taste of the dog toothpaste so he doesn’t mind when I brush his teeth once every week. Offering chewing tufts and chew toys also promotes dental cleaning.

Happy Grooming, trimming, and bathing, try not to get too wet! 

Does a duck tolling retriever need grooming? teeth 1

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Nova Scotia Ducvk Tolling Retriever

About us

Hi, welcome to my blog about the amazing breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!

My name is Eline van Stiphout and I live in The Netherlands. Together with my husband Arthur and our sweet Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy, the three of us love to travel and go on outdoor adventures. 

Currently, I’m a professional, fully licensed dog walker since 2017. I gave up my stressful fulltime office job to follow my dream which is working and walking with dogs.


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