Now Reading
Duck Tolling and the Murray River Retriever: HDC Episode #11

Duck Tolling and the Murray River Retriever: HDC Episode #11

"Chasse au Badinage" A duck tolling retriever attracts ducks in this historic depiction of duck hunting

Discovering the Murray River Retriever and the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

In this episode, we respond to some listener feedback about a couple of more unusual retriever breeds and a strange way of attracting ducks to waiting hunters.

First up, we discuss the Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever. A listener from Australia alerted us to this rare landrace which has been used for centuries along the Murray River of South Australia. This dog’s short, strong build and curly, brown coat share many similarities with other breeds developed around the same time. While its exact origin story is unknown, several theories abound. Could it be the result of Flat-Coated Retrievers mixed with curly coated water dogs such as the Irish Water Spaniel? Could it be an offshoot of the Curly-Coated Retriever? Or, most curiously, could it be a surviving landrace from the now-extinct Norfolk Retriever? Descriptions of the Norfolk Retriever certainly seem to fit the look as well as the working style of the Murray River dog.

LISTEN on Apple Podcast | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher

Whatever the origins of the Murray River Retriever, it maintains a small but passionate group of enthusiasts who are striving to gain breed recognition within the Australian National Kennel Council.

The last of the retriever breeds to cover in this series is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. The “Little River Duck Dog” is a symbol of Nova Scotia and a nod to the rich history of duck hunting in local waterways across the eastern seaboard of North America. But what exactly is “tolling” and how did it originate?

We discuss the various origins of canine tolling behavior, which is when a dog plays along the shore to lure curious ducks closer to within gun range. Foxes exhibit this behavior in the wild, but there are no confirmed records of foxes and dogs breeding to form hybrids. Instead, domestic dogs were selected for a fox-like appearance and trained to mimic the fox’s behavior in cleverly luring ducks toward a waiting hunter.

The English and Dutch used similar methods to lure ducks into a cage, pipe, or trap called a “decoy”, but there are no records of them using guns to kill the ducks trapped while using a tolling dog. This unique method of hunting appears to have originated from French practices, which may well explain the origins of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

We wrap up the episode with a discussion of the forthcoming Hunting Dog Confidential Magazine. We are in the final stages of editing Issue One and can’t wait to take readers on a journey to learn about hunting dogs from all around the world. The articles and photography are firsthand accounts from many of the sources that we’ve used for episodes of this podcast. If you are enjoying the podcast and like learning about the history and modern-day use of all kinds of hunting dogs, you will love this coffee-table-quality magazine.

As always, we thank you for listening and hope you’ll continue to reach out with your comments, questions, and ideas. Who knows what other unusual types of dogs are out there? We can’t wait to find out. We can be reached at

Share | Comment, review and discuss this episode of the podcast in our Project Upland Community Facebook group.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to rate, review, subscribe, and share this podcast.

Hunting Dog Confidential is presented by Eukanuba Premium Performance Dog Food

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

©2014-2024 Project Upland Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express permission of Project Upland is strictly prohibited.

Scroll To Top