Other names for freshwater dogfish are bowfin, blackfish, cottonfish, western mudfish and speckled cat. Still other names are the grindle, John A. Grindle, scaled ling and choupique, a Choctaw derived name used in Louisiana. The fish is also known as the lawyer.
The freshwater dogfish is native to North America and lives in the lakes and rivers of southeastern Canada, south to Minnesota and further south to Louisiana, Texas and Colorado. It also lives on the coastal plain from Alabama to Pennsylvania and has been introduced to Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut and North Carolina.
The fish is long and slender and has a dorsal fin that runs nearly the entire length of its body. It has an armored head, strong jaws and teeth and is unusual in that it can breathe air.