There area very very few that are capable of being a real hunting dog. Most have been bred so much for the confirmation and show rings that they won't retrieve even a small duck. There are a couple out there that are nice but the search could truly take a long time. If you find a litter and the owners say that a JH or Junior Hunter or SR Started Retriever are hunting titles, keep on looking.
There are some very fine NSDTR's around, I know of aleast 4 master hunters and there are alot less than labs etc. but when you choose the right breeder they are fine dogs. One of the people I know has 2 master titled and believe she had one that hs now passed away. Look for the groups or clubs thatvations are relative to NSDTR's per say specialists of breed specific groups. (My personnel observations) I often refer to them as a smaller golden that takes a bit more time training and typically seem to be very much trainable.
I wont debate that there are some capable tollers out there. A MH titled dog is certainly something to be proud of. I have seen a lot of them at JH tests trying desperately to get a JH pass so they can breed and sell pups. I personally wouldn't want to hunt with any of the ones Ive seen in the JH tests. The 5 tollers at the last JH test I attended all failed, that says enough to me in such a basic test.
Common issues I have seen include no gos on marks, not picking up the duck, not bringing the duck back, and very little retrieving desire.
Like I said, there are some MH tollers out there, but your chance of buying a toller pup and getting a solid meat dog are pretty slim.
I don't and wouldn't one either! for the following I a lab man. Its bad enough getting grief for having a chocolate, let alone a Toller.
There are certainly better choices for retrievers. BUT the person that wants a Toller isn't exactly trying to impress anybody, they just want to be different and want a truly drawn out experience.
"the far and few" comment is true. but how places can you find a breeder? etc.... opening any paper and you can find a LAB. Its about numbers and the same reasons that there are more FC/AFC's NAFC NFC that are labs just because of statics, its all in the numbers. % of blacks vs chocolates. You know what I mean.
(A well trained dog is better than no dog!) Best conservation tool ever!
I had a friend from Newfoundland visit a couple of years ago during duck season. He had a tolling retriever and that is how we hunted bluebills at my place. It was awesome. We sat on the shore and that little red dog raced back and forth looking like a red fox. Big rafts of diver ducks would swim within yards of the shore from 100's of yards out in the lake. The ducks were drawn in like a magnet. The dog did all the retrieving as well. I don't know how well the dog adapted to other hunting situations.
Just my two cents worth.
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