The following is an excerpt from Cheryl Shearar’s “Understanding Northwest Coast Art”
A small bottom feeding shark, the dogfish is not considered appealing as food. People generally are wary of this fierce, solitary, wandering creature. The Nuu-chah-nulth feared giant malicious Shark monsters who lived in deep holes under cliffs and liked to eat canoes.
Dogfish is an important crest and mythic being among the Haida, and is one of Haida artist Robert Davidson’s favourite subjects. Haida artist Bill Reid also created many impressive designs.
Depictions of Dogfish feature high, domed heads, that actually represent the snout; sharp, triangular teeth in a large, downturned mouth; parallel lines representing gills in the cheeks; large, round eyes with elliptical pupils; prominent spines; and large, asymmetrical tail flukes. Dogfish images may also feature a hooked, beakish nose, and a separate pair of circular designs representing nostrils, which on sharks are located on the underside of the head.