Barbeled Houndshark

About the Barbeled Houndshark

The Barbeled Houndshark is a species of ground shark and the only member of the family Leptochariidae. This demersal species is found in the coastal waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean from Mauritania to Angola.

Biology and description:

The Barbeled Houndshark has an extremely slender body and horizontally oval eyes equipped with internal nictitating membranes with a pair of tiny spiracles behind the eyes. Each nostril is preceded by a slender barbel. The mouth is long and arched, it has 46-60 upper tooth rows and 43-54 lower tooth rows. Unusually for a shark, dental sexual dimorphism occurs, with the front teeth in males being greatly enlarged. The 2 dorsal fins are small and about equal in size, the first one is positioned between the pectoral fin and pelvic fin and the second one over the anal fin. This shark is plain light gray above and whitish below. Males reach a maximum size of 77 cm TL and females reach a maximum size of 82 cm. Their reproductive cycle is viviparous placental with 7 young in a litter. Distinct pairing with embrace. It feed on a wide variety of bottom and shore-dwelling organisms, including crustaceans, bony fish, skate and flyingfish eggs, octopus, and sponges. Males reach sexual maturity at 55-60 cm TL and females at 52-58 cm TL.


The Barbeled Houndshark occurs along the western coast of Africa from Mauritania to Northern Angola. This species inhabits inshore waters 10-75 m deep, with temperatures of 20-27 °C. It is typically found close to the bottom over mud, particularly around river mouths.


This small, coastal and inshore benthic shark is or was moderately common but irregularly caught in heavily fished tropical inshore coastal waters of West Africa, and was formerly reported as being particularly common off Goree, Senegal and the Congo and Cuanza River mouths. There is no conservation actions in place for this shark at the moment.


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Scientific Name Leptocharias smithii
OrderGround Sharks - Carcharhiniformes
CitesNot Listed
IUCNNear Threatened
Litter Size 7
Common Length 77.0 cm
Max LenghtNA
Depth Range 10 - 75 m
DistributionEastern Central Atlantic