by David Proudfoot

Squalus acanthias

species ID spurdog

Other Names

Spiney Dogs, Spurries

Distinguishing features

The spurdog is the only common small shark found in the North Sea and eastern North Atlantic which has a spine in front of the two dorsal fins and lacks an anal fin. The spines are sharp and the one on the second dorsal stands proud of the fin. The back of the spurdog is dark grey with white spots scattered on the back and sides. The female gives birth to live young.


Spurs can attain a length of about 130 cm and a weight of around 11 kg. The female spurdogs are heavier than the male size for size.

British Record Fish List

UK Shore Record: 16lb 12oz 8dms / 7.611kg
UK Boat Record: 24lb 5oz 0dms / 11.056kg

European Line Class Record for this species

Download a length / weight relationship chart for this species


The spurdog is found in waters from 10 metres to in excess of 200 metres in depth with over a soft or muddy bottom. Although they are generally a bottom feeding fish they will feed up in mid water or higher when chasing food. It’s not unusual for a pack of spurs to follow a hooked fish to the surface.


Shoaling fish such as whiting, herring, sprats and sandeels for the bulk of the spurdog diet. It will also feed on demersal species such as cod and flatfish together with squid and crabs.


Fish baits are without doubt the most effective bait for spurdogs and any of the oily species such as herring, mackerel or blueys should be the first choice. At some venues they can also be targeted using squid either whole or in strip form. Spurdog will happily attack whole fish being used to target larger species.

species ID spurdog

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