Family Squalidae

Dogfish Sharks


Selected Characters: Both dorsal fins with spines; no anal fin.

This is a widely distributed family of small sharks. They are found in both the northern and southern hemispheres from the tropics to boreal latitudes. There are ten species in the Squalidae. The Spiny Dogfish, our only Puget Sound dogfish, is one of the most widely distributed marine fishes in the world, although it is rare in the tropics and the Indian Ocean. Like all members of its family, the Spiny Dogfish is ovoviviparous. It produces litters of usually 4 to 9 pups after a gestation of 22 to 24 months. This species may reach lengths of 1.6 meters and ages of 40 years or more. The Spiny Dogfish feeds on a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. It often forms schools, particularly where food is abundant. This is a fairly common food fish in Europe, but it is rarely eaten in North America, although it will feed on captured fish and damage fishing gear. This shark should be treated with some caution: its dorsal fin spines are sharp and mildly toxic, and it bites fiercely when threatened. The Spiny Dogfish is common in Puget Sound.

Puget Sound Species

Squalus acanthias Spiny Dogfish