Everything You Need to Know About Dogfish

We’ve fetched you the best dogfish facts

Everyone knows if they are a cat person or a dog person, but have you ever asked yourself this question: “Am I a catfish person or a dogfish person?” When on land, I’m a cat person through and through. But when it comes to our ocean dwellers, I’m a dogfish lover all the way. These sharks are 15/10, delightful in every way.

So, if dogs are man’s best friends, where does that leave dogfish? Join me on an exploration of this question and many others:

Why are they called dogfish?

No, dogfish didn’t earn their name from being loveable human companions or from being very good boys. Dogfish earned their name from their pack-like mentality. Fishermen observed them chasing down fish together and thought they seemed like a pack of dogs. Dogfish definitely like to bring the party and can hunt in groups that can number into the thousands.

Are dogfish a type of shark?

Yes! They are part of the second-largest order of sharks, Squaliformes, which includes at least 130 different species. Dogfish are small with slender bodies and pointed snouts. Don’t let their small size fool you though, as their strong jaws and sharp teeth make them excellent predators. Some young dogfish are even known to attack prey two or three times their size!

What types of dogfish are there?

Spiny dogfish are probably the best-known type of dogfish and are one of the most abundant species of sharks worldwide. They are among the few shark species that have venom, which coats their dorsal spines. Spiny dogfish have grey backs and white bellies with white spots along their sides that fade with age. They can live for up to 80 years, which means that there may be spiny dogfish around today that were born during World War II, even before the internet and smartphones.

dogfish in the ocean

Fun fact: spiny dogfish likely have the longest gestation period of any vertebrate, up to 24 months. Imagine baking a baby in your belly oven for two years! Every Mother’s Day don’t forget to go to the sea and thank your local dogfish mama for her incredible labor. But, leave the flowers at home and get her a nice squid instead.

While the spiny dogfish is the most popular, there are at least 37 other species of dogfish around the world. Some have incredible names like the bighead spurdog and the dusky smooth-hound. My favorite is the big-eyed and beautiful Genie’s dogfish. This dogfish has the honor of being named after Eugene Clark, a famous shark scientist who worked tirelessly to understand and protect these magnificent animals. She discovered that some sharks don’t have to move to breathe, confirmed that whale sharks give live births and uncovered a fish species that produces an effective shark repellent.

Where do dogfish live?

Dogfish are bottom-dwelling sharks that can be found near coasts around the world. They are known to migrate long distances. One shark was recorded swimming all the way from the state of Washington to Japan. That’s a distance of 5,000 miles!

How can I protect dogfish?

Ocean acidification due to climate change could affect the way dogfish smell their prey. This could make it harder for them to hunt down squid and the other tasty treats they need to survive. Tackling climate change will not only make it easier for dogfish to find their favorite meals but will also protect all those amazing creatures that dwell in the ocean. Take climate action now.

Our work is focused on solving some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today. We bring people, science and policy together to champion innovative solutions and fight for a sustainable ocean.
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