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Squalus Acanthias



Inshore, Offshore

16 pounds

30" - 37"

Picked Dogfish Game Fish Quality Very Good
Picked Dogfish Meal Quality Excellent

Picked Dogfish

Picked Dogfish
Also Known As: Dogfish, Dogshark, Rock Salmon, Pinback, Spur Dog, Spiny Dogfish, Piked Dogfish

Picked Dogfish  (Squalus acanthias) Fish Description

Also known as Dogfish, Dogshark, Rock Salmon, Pinback, Spur Dog, Spiny Dogfish or Piked Dogfish, the Picked Dogfish is a saltwater fish and member of the Dogfish Sharks family. It is one of the most popular dogfish in the sharks family. 

The Picked Dogfish has no anal fin but possesses some dorsal fins. One of its distinct features are the white spots on its back. It has a heterocercal tail due to its caudal fin having asymmetrical lobes.


Diet and Size

Picked Dogfish are aggressive hunters which feed mostly on shrimp, sea cucumber, jellyfish, crab, fish, squid, and other invertebrates.

Male Picked Dogfish matured at around 11 years of age, measuring around 31 to 39 inches at this time. On the other hand, female Picked Dogfish mature when they reach 18-21 years of age; at this point, they measure around 39 to 63 inches.


Interesting Facts About the Picked Dogfish 

  • The Picked Dogfish got its species name acanthias from having two spines which are used for defense.
  • When the Picked Dogfish is captured, it arches its back to wound its captor with spines near its dorsal fins. The fins secrete a mild venom.
  • Male Picked Dogfish have claspers which are a pair of pelvic fins which function as “sperm-transfer” organs. During copulation, the male Picked Dogfish inserts one clasper into the female’s cloaca or posterior orifice.
  • The average lifespan of the Picked Dogfish ranges from 35 to 54 years.
  • The Picked Dogfish is used as meat in cheap versions of shark fin soup. It is also used as pet food, source of liver oil, and fertilizer.
  • The Picked Dogfish is also a common specimen for dissection due to its size, cartilaginous skull, and availability.


Picked Dogfish — Fishing Techniques

The peak season for catching Picked Dogfish is in October. They are usually accidentally caught on the piers; anglers also target them on surflines. Sometimes, they are captured while slidebaiting. 

To capture Picked Dogfish, the best bait is sardines; perch, smelt, herring, finbait, sand crabs, worms, and ghost shrimp are effective as well. Picked Dogfish often swim in schools and luckily for anglers, they eat nearly any kind of bait.

Since this kind of shark is a fierce fighter, a light tackle will not be enough. Instead a 10-20-pound line can be used to catch this gamefish. As for rigs, the Carolina or Fishfinder Rig, Pulley Rig, and Loop Rig work well. Despite the Picked Dogfish having sharp teeth, wires are not often necessary when catching them. 

Sink gillnets and bottom trawlers are primarily used for catching Picked Dogfish.


Habitat and Distribution

Picked Dogfish are abundant in the southern California waters; they especially thrive in Ventura County and LA County. They are also located in the subarctic and temperate areas of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. They are also sighted in Nova Scotia and Cape Hatteras, and Labrador to Florida. Despite its limited range, Picked Dogfish remain as the most abundant kind of shark.

They can be found in sand flats and beaches. Picked Dogfish prefer temperate waters (54  °F to 59 °F). They can be found offshore and inshore in most parts of the globe. As bottom-dwellers, they are found in waters as deep as 160-490 feet. Some can even be found at depths measuring 2,300 feet.