Prickly Dogfish, Oxynotus bruniensis Click to enlarge image
A Prickly Dogfish caught north-east of Tuross, New South Wales, 18 July 1999. The fish is now registered in the Australian Museum Ichthyology Collection (AMS I.39544-001). Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The Prickly Dogfish grows to 72cm in length.


The Prickly Dogfish has a hump-backed body which has a flat lower surface and very rough skin. In Australia, the species occurs the central New South Wales coast to the Great Australian Bight, including Tasmania.


The Prickly Dogfish has a hump-backed body which has a flat lower surface. The body is nearly triangular in cross-section. The species has prominent abdominal ridges, two sail-like dorsal fins which are each preceded by a spine, and lacks an anal fin. It is brown to grey in colour, although the dorsal fins and posterior margins of the pectorals and pelvics are often translucent to white. The skin of the Prickly Dogfish is very rough, giving rise to the common name.


The species occurs in temperate marine waters in depths from 45 m to 650 m.


The species has been recorded from off the central New South Wales coast to the Great Australian Bight, including Tasmania.
Worldwide, there are four species in the Family Oxynotidae. Only one species is known from Australia

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Feeding and diet

The Prickly Dogfish has short, snout, lanceolate (spear or lance-shaped) teeth in the upper jaw, and blade-like teeth in the lower jaw. This arrangement of teeth and the fleshy lipped mouth bears some resemblance to the Cookie Cutter Shark.

Finucci (2016) stated "DNA sequences has revealed that O. bruniensis preys on the egg cases of holocephalans, including the Pacific spookfish (Rhinochimaera pacifica) and the brown chimaera(Chimaera carophila), besides the longnose chimaera (H. raleighana)."

Other behaviours and adaptations

Fishes which swim in open water are often spindle-shaped (fusiform, meaning tapering to both ends). This is the most energy efficient body shape for pelagic fishes. For fishes that live on or near the bottom, a spindle-shaped body is less energy efficient (Pridmore & Barwick, 1993). These fishes (the Prickly Dogfish included) often have cambered (humped) body shapes.


  1. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4, Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes: viii, 1-250.
  2. Finucci, B. 2016. Shark eat Shark World in Student Focus. OCS Newsletter. May 2016. Pp. 11-12.
  3. Glover, C.J.M. in Gomon, M.F., C.J.M. Glover & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  4. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513, Pl. 1-84.
  5. Pridmore, P.A. & R.E. Barwick, 1993. Post-cranial morphologies of the Late Devonian dipnoans Griphognathus and Chirodipterus and locomotor implications. Mem. Ass. Australas. Palaeontols. 15: 161-182 ISSN 0810-8889.