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Dieren en planten

Fish   Sharks   Greenland shark   Basking shark   Tope   Lesser spotted dogfish   Fish biology   Reproduction of fish   Nurseries   

Lesser spotted dogfish


up to 1 meter


up to 3 kilograms


Gray-brown with lots of brown-red spots and a dirty white belly


up to around 9 years


crustaceans, fish (lesser zandeel, young herring), shellfish and worms


other sharks


lays eggs
maturity: age 10 years
number: 18-20 young per nest

  • Dut: Hondshaai (Ashaai, Asselhaai, Bonte haai, Hashaai, Tigerhaai, Zeehond)
  • Lat: Scyliorhinus Canicula
  • Eng: Lesser spotted dogfish
  • Ger: Kleingefleckter Katzenhai
  • Dan: Smiplettet rødhaj
Lesser spotter dogfish, young and egg, ecomare, sytske dijksen

Lesser spotted dogfish

Lesser spotted dogfish are small bottom sharks and are harmless for man. Sometimes you find the empty olive-colored egg cases along the flood mark on the beach. These egg cases are also called mermaid's purses. You can usually see a tear where the young shark left the egg. The tips of the cases were once attached to a stone, shipwreck or maybe even seaweed. It is very unusual to find a case that still contains life. That is easy to check, since the egg capsule is transparent. 

  • Dogfish consumption?
    Lesser spotted dogfish, Ecomare

    Lesser spotted dogfish are sometimes caught for consumption. The filet from this shark is often sold as 'sea-eel' or 'salmon'. Apparently, people don't find the idea of eating dogfish so inviting. Does it come from the word 'dog'?

    However, dogfish are usually caught accidentally. Being a bottom dweller, fishermen catch them while going after flatfish. Because lesser spotted dogfish grow relatively slowly, there is a good chance that they are caught before reproducing. Therefore, it is no wonder that lesser spotted dogfish have become more rare in intensively fished regions.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Distribution of lesser spotted dogfish, Ecomare

    Since the 1970s, the lesser spotted dogfish has been the most common species of shark in the North Sea. However, the numbers have been declining, although not as rapidly as the spurdog which used to be the most common species. Since 2000, the number of lesser spotted dogfish in the North Sea has risen somewhat.

    Lesser spotted dogfish live close to sandy or muddy bottoms, preferably where seaweed also grows. Young dogfish prefer shallow water while adults prefer deeper water. They don't swim in schools.

    Lesser spotted dogfish are found in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, including the North Sea. They can swim incredible distances. Specimen that were caught and marked in the North Sea were found later on as far away as the Canary Islands.

  • Dogfish egg