The family includes only a single genus, Dicamptodon. Specimens are up to 30 cm (12 in) long, and are found in the Western USA and South Western British Columbia. Except for their size, they are similar to the mole salamander family (Ambystomatidae) in which they were originally included.
While most salamanders are silent, the Pacific giant salamander is one of several salamanders that have vocal abilities. When startled, the salamander may respond with a croaky sounding cry similar to that of a barking dog.