Lesser Spotted Dogfish

Scyliorhins canicula

  1. Wildlife
  2. Fish and sharks
  3. Lesser Spotted Dogfish


The Lesser Spotted Dogfish is a small shark, so named due to the dark spots and blotches covering its skin. All sharks have very rough skin, covered in hard 'dermal denticles' literally meaning 'tiny skin teeth'. If rubbed the wrong the way, they are very coarse like sandpaper, but provide the shark with an effective chainmail-like protective covering. Dogfish are predators, feeding on shellfish and other small fish.

How to identify

The most commonly seen shark, smaller and more spotty than the scarcer Large Spotted Dogfish. Very rough, pale cream skin. Large dark eyes and a small mouth. The eggs cases of the Lesser Spotted Dogfish are known as 'mermaid's purses' are often found washed up onshore.

Where to find it

Found all around our coasts.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Our seas and coastline are in need of protection if we are to keep our marine wildlife healthy. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Lesser Spotted Dogfish
Latin name
Scyliorhins canicula
Fish and sharks
Length: up to 75cm Weight: less than 1kg
Conservation status