Any of several species of small sharks. The spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias, family Squalidae) has a sharp spine in front of each of its two dorsal fins. It is abundant along northern Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is gray with white spots, about 2–4 ft (60–120 cm) long, and often found in schools. It preys on fishes and invertebrates and often steals bait and damages fishing nets. It yields liver oil or is ground for fertilizer. Other well-known species are the spotted dogfishes (family Scyliorhinidae), which are sold as food, and the smooth hound or smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis, family Triakidae), one of the most common sharks on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Seealso bowfin.
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Dogfish is a name applied to a number of small sharks found in the northeast Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean, especially to those in the three families Scyliorhinidae, Dalatiidae and Squalidae. Although often used in reference to Scyliorhinus canicula, the name is applied only loosely and does not usually signify a close taxonomic relationship.
Care must be taken when handling dogfish due to the two venomous spines at the back of both dorsal fins. The venom is not likely to cause major damage, but the wound can take months to heal. Their skin is also extremely abrasive, and thus gloves are usually worn when handling live dogfish .