Spiny Dogfish

The spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias, is one of the best known of the dogfish which are members of the family Squalidae in the order Squaliformes. While these common names may apply to several species, Squalus acanthias is distinguished by having two spines (one anterior to each dorsal fin) and lacks an anal fin. These dogfish are found in inshore and offshore waters over the continental shelf to depths of 2950 feet (900 m). 


The spiny dogfish has dorsal spines, no anal fin, and white spot along its back. The caudal fin has asymmetrical lobes, forming a heterocercal tail. The species name acanthias refers to the shark's two spines. These are used defensively. If captured, the shark can arch its back to pierce its captor. Glands at the base of the spines secrete a mild poison.


Males mature at around 11 years of age, growing to 80–100 cm (2.6–3.3 ft) in length; females mature in 18–21 years and are slightly larger than males, reaching 98.5–159 cm (3.23–5.22 ft).[2] Both sexes are greyish brown in color and are countershaded. Males are identified by a pair of pelvic fins modified as sperm-transfer organs, or "claspers". The male inserts one clasper into the female cloaca during copulation.


Spiny dogfish are fished for food in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Chile. The meat is primarily consumed in England, France, the Benelux countries and Germany. The fins and tails are processed into fin needles and are used in less expensive versions of shark fin soup in Chinese cuisine. In England this and other dogfish are sold in fish and chip shops as "rock salmon" or "huss", in France it is sold as "small salmon" (saumonette) and in Belgium and Germany it is sold as "sea eel" (zeepaling and Seeaal, respectively). It is also used as fertilizer, liver oil, and pet food, and, because of its availability, cartilaginous skull, and manageable size, as a popular vertebrate dissection specimen, in both high schools and universities.


Dogfish have earned a bad reputation among fishermen for their voracious appetites. They are known to drive off commercially caught fish including mackerel and herring, while consuming large numbers of them. Spiny dogfish have been observed biting through nets to get at fishes, releasing many of them in the process. Schooling pelagic fishes make up the majority of the diet of the spiny dogfish. These include herring, menhaden, capelin, sand lance, and mackerel. Other consumed species include wolffish and flatfishes, as well as squid, jellyfish, shrimps, crabs, octopus, and sea cucumbers. 

Species Information

Scientific Name:Squalus acanthias
Environment:Inshore, Nearshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:45-55°F (7-13°C)
Technique:Bottom Fishing, Chunking
Lure Type:Bottom Rig
World Record:7.14 kg (15 lb 12 oz) Kenmare Bay, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Other Names:spiny dogfish, spurdog, piked dogfish, dogfish, fiogach gobach, galludo, pinchudo

Latest Spiny Dogfish Fishing Reports and Spots

Blue Marlin, Blackfin, Mahi, and Wahoo off Hatteras - 4/15/2014 3:13:50 PM

Fishing is starting to pick up off Hatteras. Yesterday, several Blue Marlin were teased up by the fleet, a few were lucky enough to hookup. Go (View)


Dogfish in the Hatteras Surf - 4/12/2014 9:24:15 PM

Surf fished on the point at Hatteras Inlet this evening on the high tide. Caught a couple of 3' spiny dogfish sharks as we watched the sun set. (View)


Blackfin Tuna Offshore and Red Drum Inshore Hatteras - 3/21/2014 11:37:49 PM

The fleet reported good catches of Blackfin Tuna today with a couple of them over 20#s. There were also reports of False Albacore. One of t (View)


Late No Report for Cape Henry on 1/21 - 1/27/2013 2:43:23 AM

We planned on fishing Friday through Tuesday, but we only got one day with suitable weather. On Monday morning we left out of Lynnhaven Inlet he (View)


Dogfish Stamped as Sustainable Fishery - 9/18/2012 4:42:58 PM

By Dan Radel This almost slipped under the radar but the nuisance spiny dogfish was just recently given the Marine Stewardship Council’s stamp o (View)


A couple of surprise bluefins - 10/29/2011 4:17:51 AM

Bluefin tuna trolling in the Monster Ledge area was poor again today even though the weather was a huge improvement over yesterday's northwest (View)


Stripers and Tog - 2 charters on Saturday - 12/2/2020 12:01:33 AM

Last weekend I had return client Jason Bendick and his buddies on a 5hr striped bass / tog combo. We tried jigging on good marks but could only (View)


Striped Bass to 30 pounds and Tog to 11lb - Pa-Pow!! - 12/18/2018 6:52:17 PM

I had return client Paul Kaufman his son Conrad and friend Brian Fisola on a 5hr Striped Bass charter. With rather dirty water at the inlet the (View)


OCMD fishing report 5-2 - 5/4/2016 4:12:06 AM

Water temps are coming up. There are some bluefish but the large ones seem to be moving north. There are stripers black drum blowfish spiny dogf (View)


Yellowfin, Mako, and Red Drum off Oregon Inlet Today - 4/12/2015 9:30:20 PM

Went towards the point and saw lots of Boston Mackerel bait balls surrounded by acres of porpoises in 58 degree water. Search for tuna bite in t (View)