Taxon profile


Dogtooth Grouper
Epinephelus caninus (Valenciennes, 1843)

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Chordata - chordates »  class Actinopterygii - ray-finned fishes »  order Perciformes - perch-likes »  family Serranidae - sea basses and groupers »  genus Epinephelus

Scientific synonyms

Serranus caninus Valenciennes, 1843
Cerna canina (Valenciennes, 1843)

Data Deficient DD


Body depth 2.7 to 3.0 times in standard length (for fish 20 to 78 cm standard, length). Head length contained 2.3 to 2.5 times in standard length; interorbital area convex; preopercle angular, with 3 to 5 distinctly enlarged serrae at the angle and usually a slender, antrorse or ventrally-directed spine on ventral edge near the angle; subopercle and interopercle serrate; upper edge of operculum distinctly convex; eye diameter more than interorbital width in fish less than 30 cm standard length, but noticeably less than interorbital in fish more than 45 cm standard length; rear nostril 2 or 3 times size of front nostrils; maxilla scaly, reaching to or beyond vertical at rear edge of eye; midlateral part of lower jaw with 2 rows of teeth, the inner teeth larger; canines at front of jaws well developed. Gill rakers 8 to 10 on upper limb and 15 to 17 on lower limb, total 23 to 27. Dorsal fin with XI spines and 13 or 14 rays, the membranes deeply incised between the spines; anal fin with III spines and 8 rays; pectoral fins with 17 or 18 rays, distinctly longer than pelvic fins, pectoral-fin length contained 1.7 to 2.2 times in head length; pelvic fins clearly not reaching anus; caudal fin truncate, the corners slightly rounded. Body scales distinctly ctenoid; lateral-line scales 70 to 79; lateral-scale series about 120 to 135.
Colour: Uniformly dark reddish brown or greyish violet to yellowish grey; posterior parts of median fins with a distinct white edge. Usually two or three dark bands radiating posteriorly from the eye, the uppermost extends from eye to lower opercular spine, the second runs from lower edge of eye across angle of preopercle to juncture of interopercle and subopercle, and the third band (usually the faintest) extends from the dark moustache streak at the upper edge of the maxilla to the lower edge of the preopercle. The dark bands on the head are not discernible in fish larger than 45 cm standard length. A good colour photograph was published by Manzoni (1987). The illustration in Seret’s (1981) book is also a good likeness.


Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic from Portugal to Angola; Heemstra and Randall (1993) have examined specimens from Sicily, Israel, Senegal, Togo, and Angola. Dooley et al. (1985) reported that it is rare in the Canaries.


E. caninus occurs on sandy mud bottoms in depths of 30 to 400 m. An age and growth curve for Tunisian specimens was published by Bouain (1986).


Maximum 157 cm total length, and at least 35 kg.

Interchangeable taxa

E. caninus is similar to E. goreensis, which has 16 dorsal-fin rays, a smaller head (its length contained 2.5 to 2.7 times in standard length), and the upper edge of the operculum is almost straight. Another similar species, E. haifensis, has a rounded caudal fin, 9 anal-fin rays, body depth usually greater (depth contained 2.4 or 2.8 times in standard length), pelvic fins subequal to pectoral fins and reaching to or beyond the anus, no scales on maxilla, and fewer lateral-scale series (104 to 112). E. costae has a more elongate body (depth contained 3.0 to 3.4 times in standard length), smaller head (head length contained 2.5 to 2.7 times in standard length), 15 to 17 dorsal-fin rays, and no scales on the maxilla. E. marginatus differs in having a rounded caudal fin, 14 to 16 dorsal-fin rays, no scales on maxilla, and 98 to 116 lateral-scale series. The 78 cm standard length specimen from Angola described by Franca (1957) under the name of “Epinephelus sp.- B2“ was examined at the Museu Bocage; it appears to be E. caninus. The species described and illustrated as “Epinephelus alexandrinus“ by Poll (1954:56, fig. 15) is probably E. caninus.


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1993, Heemstra, P.C.; Randall, J.E., FAO species catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rock cod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date.
Author: Petr Čech

Links and literature

CH DE EN FR IT NL PR SP FishBase [9217]

Froese R., Pauly D. (eds.): FishBase []
CZ AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [species/8448]

Plíštil J. (Ed.) (2009): AQUATAB. World Wide Web electronic publication [] [as Epinephelus caninus (Valenciennes, 1843)]
Data retrieved on: 17 January 2010
EN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018-1 [132796]

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [] [as Epinephelus caninus (Valenciennes, 1843)]
Data retrieved on: 3 August 2018
CZ Hanel L., Plíštil J., Novák J. (2011): České názvy živočichů V. Ryby a rybovití obratlovci (Pisces). 7. Paprskoploutví (Actinopterygii) Kostnatí (Neopterygii) [Ropušnicotvaří (Scorpaeniformes) – ostnoploutví (Perciformes) – Percoidei], Národní muzeum (zoologické oddělení), Praha, 148 str. [as Epinephelus caninus (Valenciennes, 1843)]
Data retrieved on: 19 August 2019

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