Latin name

Mustelus mustelus

Other names

Smooth-hound, Smooth hound shark, Gray houndflsh, Gray-mouthed dog.


These sharks have a short head and an elongated body. The distance from the tip of the snout to the base of the pectoral fins is 17% to 21% of the total body length. The snout is slightly elongated and blunt. The large oval eyes are horizontally elongated. There are lip furrows at the corners of the mouth. The upper furrows are slightly longer than the lower one's. The mouth is short that, almost equal to the eye, is length is 2.2-3.5% of the body length. The teeth are blunt and flat, asymmetrical with a small central spearhead. Lateral teeth are present only in very young sharks. The cheek- pharyngeal teeth only cover the tip of the tongue and the front of the pharynx. 

Features of fish fins

The distance between the dorsal fins is 18-25% of the body length. Pectoral fins are large, the length of the anterior margin is 13-17% and the length of the posterior margin is 8.2-14% of the total length. The length of the anterior edge of the pelvic fins is 6.5-9.9% of the total body length. The height of the anal fin is 2.4-4.3% of the total length. The first dorsal fin is larger than the second. Its base is located between the bases of the pectoral and ventral fins. The base of the second dorsal fin begins before the base of the anal fin. The anal fin is smaller than either dorsal fin. There is a ventral notch near the edge of the upper lobe of the caudal fin. The caudal fin is almost horizontal. 

Fish colouring

Colour grey or grey-brown without markings. Belly pale.


They live in the eastern Atlantic from northern Europe to southern Africa,  including the Mediterranean, but they are most abundant in the northern part of their range. They are found off the coasts of Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, possibly the Azores and Madeira, and off the coasts of the Eastern Cape (South Africa) and KwaZulu-Natal. 


They are found at depths of 5 to 50 metres, although there is evidence that these sharks have been found at depths of 350 metres. 


Maximum fixed length 200 cm. Reaches a weight of 24 kg.


They prefer to swim near the bottom. They are inactive and sedentary predators. Often form large schools.

Food and feeding habits

The diet consists mainly of bottom-dwelling crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs and shrimps. European basking sharks also eat cephalopods and small bony fish.


Reproduction by live birth through the placenta. The embryos also feed on the yolk. There are 4 to 15 newborns per litter. Males and females reach sexual maturity at lengths of 70-74 cm and 80 cm, corresponding to ages of 9.1 and 10.75 years. Pregnancy lasts 10-11 months. Newborns are about 39 cm long. Off the coast of Africa, mating takes place in May and June, and births occur in late April and early May. Maximum recorded life expectancy is 25 years.


Of little commercial interest in northern Europe. It is a target fishery in the Mediterranean, as the meat of these sharks is much more highly valued in southern Europe than in the north.

Relationship with a person

The species is not dangerous to humans, but care should be taken when catching these sharks as they have sharp teeth, powerful jaws and very rough skin. 

Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Squad Carcharhiniformes
Family Triakidae
Genus Mustelus
Species M. mustelus
Conservation status Endangered
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 25
Maximum body weight, kg 24
Maximum length, cm 200
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Common smooth-hound

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