Calgary to be Tollerrific as Alberta Plays Host to 2019 Canadian Toller National Specialty

Updated: Jan 10


Cavan, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, emerging from tunnel. Photo Credit: Cathy Dick


A big Toller event is on the horizon. From July 31st to August 4th, Calgary, Alberta will play host to the 2019 Canadian Toller National Specialty.


Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Toller owners, breeders and fans will be gathering together to celebrate all things Toller.

To learn more about the upcoming 2019 Canadian Toller National Specialty, I talked with Elaine MacDonald about this Tollerrific event!


Henry Toller Tails (HTT): Hi Elaine, thanks for taking the time to talk with me about this Tollerrific event. What is the Canadian Toller National Specialty?

Elaine MacDonald (EM): While the Canadian Toller National Specialty, or “Specialty” features a single breed-the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (“Tollers”), it’s mainly about gathering Tollers lovers, owners and Toller dogs together to celebrate all things Toller and share our love of the breed.


At the National, Toller breed owners and breeders from all over Canada come together to share their knowledge and passion in different forms of competition such as:

  • Conformation;

  • Obedience;

  • Rally;

  • Agility; and,

  • Working Certificate tests.

The event that comes often to people’s mind when they think of dog shows is the Conformation event. At the Specialty, the Conformation is taken very seriously as it is a chance to look at the current state of the Toller breed and a look to where it’s going.


HTT: What is a Specialty?

EM: Specialty dog shows have additional classes available to allow for more participation. This includes a competitive veterans class as well as a competitive field dog class. Unofficial classes may also be offered like stud dog, brood bitch, or brace. Any dogs shown in these classes can be neutered or spayed so more Tollers that are pets can participate.


The 2019 Canadian National Toller Specialty is jam packed with events including agility, rally, obedience, conformation and working certificates.


HTT: How long has the Canadian Toller National Specialty been running?

ED: 2019 marks the 19th year for the Canadian National Tolling Retriever Specialty show. The Specialty show is held every second year in different provinces across Canada. This year Alberta is playing host and the Specialty will be held in Calgary at Spruce Meadows.


Mick and Duff, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers demonstrating their skills. Photo Credit: Hugh Warren

HTT: What are Working Certificate Tests?

ED: Working Certificates are non-competitive tests. As the Canadian Kennel Club (“CKC”) notes, “These tests provide a means to help encourage retriever owners to develop their dogs’ natural abilities, and to have proficient hunting partners.”

The Working Certificate Tests include the:

  • WC (Working Certificate);

  • WCI (Working Certificate Intermediate); and,

  • WCX (working Certificate Excellent).

Working Certificate Tests also provide a means to help determine the skills of future breeding stock.


HTT: Rally and Obedience events are exciting to watch, but what can someone who never has seen such an event learn?

ED: CKC Rally and CKC Obedience are events are great to watch. Competing in them showcases the teamwork between the dog and their handler, along with performance skills.

For someone who has never seen Rally and Obedience events, they will be seeing a wide range of Tollers competing.


At our Specialty, there are competition classes or sections for what is formally called “altered dogs” these are dogs who are spayed or neutered. They can compete with same rules and regulations as non-altered dogs. So, if your Toller is spayed or neutered, but does rally or obedience, then they can compete too!


HTT: Saturday is a whole day of Sweepstakes? What does that mean?

ED: Well they are called ‘Sweepstakes” because participants have a chance to win some money, but it’s purely for fun.


Sweepstakes are a non-regular class and usually offered at specialty shows. For example, there are sweepstake classes specifically designed to recognize outstanding young dogs (puppies and juveniles) and older dogs (Veterans 7 and over). We also offer a “Breeders Sweepstakes” for Toller breeders to showcase the dogs they have bred.


Winners of “Best in Sweeps”, ”Best Opposite Sex in Sweeps” and often all of the class placement winners, receive a portion of the entry fees as prizes for their placement. Sweepstakes are the only classes where money prizes are normally awarded. Anyone interested in entering the show can find more information by clicking here.


Sage, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Photo Credit: Elaine MacDonald

HTT: Why is what most people call the “dog show” called Conformation?

ED: Conformation competition is also commonly referred to as "breed competition.” A Conformation Class assesses how well a dog’s specific physical structure, type and temperament within its class conform to the standard of excellence for its breed.


Basically, how well does the dog conform to the standards. That’s why it’s called conformation.


If readers are interested they can learn more about the CKC conformation rules and regulations by clicking here.


HTT: How much fun is it for the Tollers competing?

ED: Tollers are high energy dogs with a drive to please and the love to compete. For the Tollers, performing is fun!


HTT: What is the role of events like the Canadian National Toller Specialty in the broader dog breeding world?

ED: National Specialty shows are bigger and include more dogs from across Canada. CKC points are the same as in a normal dog show. Basically, the Canadian National Toller Specialty brings Tollers from across the country together and Toller breeders, owners and fans share their knowledge.


HTT: What can people attending the Canadian National Toller Specialty expect to see?

ED: People attending the Canadian National Toller Specialty will see the Toller breed in action at different competitive venues and events. They will be able to see all Tollers at all ages and stages from puppy to veteran.


One of our very special events at a Canadian National Toller Specialty is the Parade of Champions. This parade is guaranteed to get the crowd cheering, clapping and at times crying with joy as we celebrate the career of some of our founding Toller dogs!


HTT: If a person or family is interested in adding a Toller to their home, is attending an event like the Canadian National Toller Specialty helpful?

ED: Yes, this is a great way to see a whole lot of Tollers in action and up close. It is also a good way to meet with Toller breeders and other Toller owners and give those people thinking of adding a Toller to their family a chance to ask questions.


HTT: Thanks Elaine for explaining what the Canadian National Toller Specialty is all about!


If you are in the Calgary area from July 31st to August 4, 2019, we encourage you or anyone you know who loves dogs and especiallyTollers to go out and support the Canadian National Toller Specialty.


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