Spiny Dogfish
Whole Spiny Dogfish [Piked Dogfish, Mud Shark, Spurdog; Cape Shark (market); Palombo (Sicily); Squalus acanthias   |   Pacific Spiny Dogfish; Squalus suckleyi]

There are many small sharks called "Dogfish", but the Spiny Dogfish has always been the most common and perhaps the most common of all sharks. It inhabits cooler waters worldwide, except the North Pacific, where the very similar S. suckleyi replaces it. This fish can grow to a little over 5 feet long and 20 pounds but it is commonly a little over 3 feet. This fish is IUCN Red Listed as VU (Vulnerable) worldwide, and CR (Critically Endangered) in Northern Europe, where effective controls are late being implemented.   Photo by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration = Public Domain.

More on Sharks.


In North America, this fish has been mostly bycatch and discarded or sold at a very low price for fertilizer and animal food. It has been overfished, but effective controls are in place and the population has largely recovered. One food developer is now test marketing dogfish sticks on college campuses as "Shark Bites".

In Europe this is a very popular eating fish and has been so heavily fished it is now Critically Endangered in that region. Some controls are now in effect, but this fish has a rather long recovery period, so how well the population will recover, if at all, is unknown.

In England, this fish is sold in fish and chips shops as "Rock Salmon" or "Huss". In France it is sold as saumonette (small salmon). In Belgium it is sold as zeepaling (sea eel) and in Germany as Seeaal (sea eel). It is also used for liver oil, fertilizer and pet food. This fish is eaten to some extent in Chile and New Zealand.

The fins are processed into fin needles which are shipped to Asia for use in a less expensive version of Shark Fin Soup. In North America it is illegal to harvest fins without also using the rest of the fish. It cannot be tossed back to die as it is by Asian fishermen. It is illegal to posses shark fins or to serve or consume shark fin soup in California and Hawaii, the states with the largest Chinese populations.

Dogfish is often called for in Mediterranean recipes, though it is not particularly common in the Mediterranean (too warm).

The Pacific Spiny Dogfish, a little smaller than the regular Spiny Dogfish, is not much fished at all, and not a whole lot is known about it. Its liver was once used as a source of oil for miners lamps on Vancouver Island, Canada, but this fish has not been popular for food. It is IUCN Red Listed as NE (Not Evaluated).

As with other sharks, Spiny Dogfish needs to be beheaded and drained of blood as soon as possible after catching, and needs to be kept well chilled or frozen. More detail will be found on our main Sharks page.

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