Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Search in the Encyclopedia

Dieren en planten

Mens en Milieu

Water   Seawater   Fisheries   By-catch   



up to 160 centimeters


up to 9.1 kilograms


gray with white spots and dirty white belly


up to 75 years


fish, such as lesser sandeel, herring, haddock and cuttlefish


other sharks


maturity: after 12 years
number: 1-15 young per nest

  • Dut: Doornhaai (speerhaai, spoorhaai, stekelhaai)
  • Lat: Squalus acanthias
  • Eng: Spurdog (Picked dogfish, Spiny dogfish)
  • Ger: Dornhai
  • Dan: Pighaj
Spurdog, Ecomare


Spurdogs are regularly caught by fishermen in the North Sea. In October 2008, the fishing vessel TX68 caught many spurdogs in its net in just one fishing attempt. The crew filled more than 60 crates just with this shark. This shark is named after the characteristic spines, or spurs, on the front of its dorsal fins, which are defense weapons. This creates a problem for fishermen when trying to remove them from their nets. Otherwise, spurdogs are harmless.

  • Distribution of the spurdog
    Distribution of spurdogs on a world scale, Ecomare

    Spurdogs are found in all temperate and sub-tropical coastal waters, including the North Sea. They usually swim close to the sea bottom and often live in groups. That is why you can run into large numbers at one sighting.

    Up till the 1970s, the spurdog was the most common shark in the North Sea. It has since become more rare. Less than 10% of the number of spurdogs live in the North Sea region as in the beginning of the 20th century. Every once in awhile, there is an unexplained increase in the population.

  • Characteristics

    In Norway, spurdog is fished in the wintertime by trawlers and with the help of lines containing hooks. The smoke meat is sold as 'sea eel', and is highly desired in some countries, such as Germany ('Schillerlocken'). The yield in Europe per year is around 20,000 tons. The largest part is caught by fishermen from Norway and the United Kingdom.

  • Young spurdog
    young Spurdog, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Young animals always look cute. Sharks too!

Young spurdogs