Sustainable Fishing, Marine Biology & Conservation
Background Pages
« Spiny Dogfish | Main | Blue Shark »

Smooth Dogfish

(Mustelus canis)

The smooth dogfish or "sand shark" (as it's often known) is similar to its cousin the spiny dogfish in that it's a small shark that's caught accidentally by bottom fishermen more often than by anyone on purpose. But that's about where the similarities end. Smooth dogfish are a little nearshore shark species that grows to about five feet and has a range that covers pretty much the entire East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Unlike the spiny, smooth dogfish cannot tolerate the colder water temperatures so they move north in the spring and summer months and then retreat to their southern haunts in the fall. They're primarily bottom dwellers that feed mostly on small crustaceans, but they'll take just about any bait they can get in their mouth. Spiny dogfish are frequently taken in the nearshore waters and are common catches in the surf and back bays as well.