cuban dogfish

Small shark with spines living in our area

The Cuban dogfish (Squalus cubensis) is a member of the family Squalidae, common name Dogfish sharks, in the order Squaliformes, also common name Dogfish sharks. It is found in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, around Cuba, Hispaniola, southern Brazil, and Argentina. It inhabits continental shelves and uppermost slopes at depths from 197-1,247 feet. Its length may reach 3.6 feet.


Family: Carcharhinidae – Requiem sharks

Genus: Prionace

Species: glauca


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Order– Squaliformes

Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Squalidae

Common Name– Dogfish Sharks




Average Size and Length: On average mature Cuban dogfish are around 1.6 feet. Maximum recorded length is between 2.5-3.6 feet.  

Teeth and Jaw: Cuban dogfish teeth are strongly oblique, smooth-edged cusps with a strong notch on their outer margins forming a nearly continuous cutting edge. The teeth are similar in both the upper and lower jaws with 26 teeth in each jaw (U 13-13, L 13-13).

Head: The Cuban dogfish has a broad head with a short, rounded snout with tiny barbels on the anterior nasal flaps. It has very large eyes that are closer to the tip of the snout, rather than the first gill slit.

Denticles: The denticles that run laterally along the stalk of the Cuban dogfish are small, unicuspidate, and lanceolate with a strong central ridge that divides anteriorly into two or three ridges with broad extensions on either side of the central ridge.

Tail: The Cuban dogfish has a lobed, asymmetrical caudal fin. There is no subterminal notch on the caudal fin. There is a well-developed upper precaudal pit and lateral keels on the caudal peduncle.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Cuban dogfish can be found in warm to temperate seas in the tropical west-Atlantic. They are typically found offshore on the outer continental shelf and upper slopes on or near the bottom between 197-1,247 feet deep. Young Cuban dogfish can be found in shallower waters.

Diet: The diet of the Cuban dogfish is not confirmed; however, research suggests that they feed on small benthic invertebrates and fish.

Potential predators of the Cuban dogfish include marine mammals and large fish including other sharks.

Aesthetic Identification: Cuban dogfish have a slender body that is greyish and not spotted, with a counter-shaded white ventral side. There are large black or dusky blotches on the dorsal fins. There are visible white posterior margins on the pectoral and caudal fins. They have concave posterior pectoral fin margins and angular rear tips. The first dorsal fin is high, and the spine seems high and slender. The fin and spine origin are over the pectoral inner margins.

Biology and Reproduction: The Cuban dogfish is ovoviviparous. They have 10 pups per litter.

The isopod parasites which commonly infest the mouth and gills of marine fish are unusually large in the Cuban dogfish.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The Cuban dogfish can occur in large, very dense schools and sometimes shoals.

Cuban Dogfish Future and Conservation: Not enough data to evaluate them; however, It is not generally used for food, but taken commercially for the oil and vitamins extracted from its liver.

Cuban Dogfish Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.