By the sound of its name, one would assume the Dogfish to be a fearsome creature of the deep. And one would be partly right, as it refers to, among other things, several species of sharks. The fact of the matter is that there are actually a number of sea creatures that share this not-quite-so-unique designation.
Among the type of sharks designated as dogfish are those belonging to the Squaliformes, a shark order made up of several families. The species specifically named as Dogfish sharks belong to the Squalidae family, with an adult body size ranging from a length of 48 centimeters (19 inches) up to 1.6 meters (5.2 feet). As for the other squaliform sharks, the Gulper sharks of the Centrophoridae family range in size from a small 79 centimeters (2.59 feet) to a medium-sized 164 centimeters (5.38 feet).
The Kitefin sharks of the Dilatiidae family come in at just below 2 meters long (6.6 feet). The Bramble sharks of the Echinorhinidae family are a significantly large species, ranging in length from 3.1 meters (10 feet) to 4 meters (13 feet). In contrast, the Lantern sharks of the Etmopteridae family are considerably small at an average size of 90 centimeters (35 inches). The Rough sharks of the Oxynotidae family mature to a range of sizes, from a length of 49 centimeters (1.61 feet) up to 150 centimeters (4.9 feet).
Ironically, some species of the Catshark or Scyliorhinidae family are also referred to as dogfish. Named for their catlike eyes, catsharks average from around 60 to 70 centimeters in size, although the Apristurus gibbosus or Humback cat shark has been noted as having a length of 4 meters. The Mustelus canis or Smooth Dogfish belongs to the genus Mustelus, also known appropriately enough as Smooth-hounds. The smooth-hound can mature to a length of 159 centimeters (5.25 feet) and a weight of above 29 pounds (13 kilograms). Meanwhile, the smooth dogfish (also known as the Dusky smooth-hound) itself has an average length of roughly 1.2 meters (48 inches), a maximum length of 1.5 meters (60 inches) and can weigh up to 27 pounds (12 kilograms).
There are a few other shark species known alternatively as dogfish, such as the Carcharias Taurus or Grey nurse shark, which can grow up to 3.2 meters (approximately 10.5 feet) and can weigh from 200 up to 350 pounds (90 to 160 kilograms). The males of this species mature at a length of 2.1 meters (around 6 feet 11 inches), while fully-grown females come at 2.2 meters (around 7 feet 3 inches). The Ginglymostoma cirratum or Nurse shark (not to be confused with the grey nurse shark) can achieve a length of 4.3 meters (14 feet) and a weight of up to 330 pounds (150 kilograms).
There are a couple of species of fish that are also known as dogfish, such as the Bodianus rufus or Spanish hogfish, which is usually 20 to 30 centimeters in length, though it can grow to a size of 60 centimeters. And then there’s the Amia calva or Bowfin, which can mature to a length of 109 centimeters (43 inches) and a weight of 21.5 pounds (9.75 kilograms).
Despite sharing similar nicknames, the distinctive physical traits and sizes of these denizens of the deep are what keep them ever distinguishable from each other. There is much diversity among the creatures of the sea, even if there is sometimes little diversity in the labels that we land-dwellers come up for them.