Nursehound Shark

The nursehound shark, also referred to as bull huss, greater spotted dogfish, or large-spotted dogfish is a nocturnal species of catshark.

Nursehound Shark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Scyliorhinidae
Genus Scyliorhinus
Scientific Name S. stellaris


The maximum length of these sharks has been observed is about 5.2 ft, though the average is about 4.3 ft. Their heads are broad and round, with oval eyes and large skin flaps around the nares. Inside the mouth, there are 22–27 teeth rows in the upper jaw and 18-21 rows of teeth in the lower jaw.

They have small black dots interspersed with brown spots of varying shapes on a grayish or brownish background on the dorsal side. The ventral side is plain white.

Where do they live

These sharks live in the northeastern Atlantic, ranging from southern Norway and Sweden to Senegal, with sightings in the British Isles, the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean Sea.

This shark is most commonly seen at a depth of 1,300 ft, though the range is between 66 and 410 ft. It prefers quiet waters above rocky terrains, especially those with algal cover.



As a nocturnal species, they swim into deeper waters at night to hunt. Their diet mainly consists of bony fish like deepwater cardinalfishes, dragonets, flatfishes, gurnards, herring, mackerel, and even smaller sharks like the small-spotted catshark. They will also feed on crustaceans and cephalopods.

Adults have a greater chance to feed on cephalopods and bony fish, while juveniles will consume more crustaceans.


These sharks appear to be social with one another, with some even squeezing into the same cave. They will move about in large groups, with members changing now and then.


The nursehound shark lays 9-41 eggs in shallow water after mating in spring or early summer. Each of these eggs is enclosed inside a thick, rectangular, dark brown case with tendrils at each end. These tendrils keep the eggs tethered to seaweed.

At the hatching period, the newborn sharks are about 3.9-6.3 inches long and become sexually mature at about 30–31 inches, roughly about four years. The shark tends to live for 19 years.

Interactions with humans

While generally harmless, if threatened, these sharks will sometimes bite and use their rough skin to attack. But they acquiesce to captivity quite well and are common features in public aquaria.

Nursehound sharks are hunted for their meat and skin, leading to their population decline. The IUCN has classified them as “Vulnerable” or “VU” as a result.

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