Spurdog ┬ęPeter Verhoog

Spurdog shark

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Scientific name: Squalus acanthias
This slender shark gets its name from the spines in front of its dorsal fin. It can use these spines to defend itself by curling in a bow and striking at a predator.

Top facts


Length: Up to 92 cm
Weight: Up to 9.1 kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for up to 70 years

Conservation status

The spurdog is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

Present all year round


Also known as the spiny dogfish, the spurdog is a predator that feeds on bony fish, and sometimes even smaller sharks! It is a migratory species that spends the winter months in deep water, and the summer months in warm coastal waters.

They often travel in groups which makes them an easier target for fisheries. It's difficult for these sharks to recover from overfishing, because they are very slow to reproduce, typically having 1 litter of pups every 2 years.

What to look for

The Spurdog shark has a pointed snout, large eyes, and spines in front of its dorsal fins. Its streamlined body is a grey/brown colour on top with a lighter belly and rows of white spots down its sides.

Where to find

Found in the Irish Sea and Northeast Atlantic, and in temperate waters world-wide.

Did you know?

Female spurdog sharks have one of the longest pregnancies of any vertebrate, lasting between 18-22 months.