Last update: November 14, 2022

6 Popular Fish That Look Like A Dog

Just like humans, animals seem to have their own doppelgangers too. This is especially true for fish; so many of them look like other animals or have similar features to other animals that are almost uncanny.

Believe it or not, there are even some fish that resemble a man’s best friend; the very adorable and beloved dog. In fact, we’ve found 6 fish that look like a dog; some have faces that look like some of your favorite breeds, while others have some of the beloved characteristics of your favorite furry pups.

While you can’t take these fish out of the water and cuddle them like you could a dog, they are still quite fascinating to marvel at. There aren’t a lot of fish that look like dogs, but the ones that do are listed below:

  • Dogface Pufferfish 
  • Stargazer 
  • Synodontis 
  • Giraffe Catfish 
  • Hairy Frogfish 
  • Dog Snapper 

Fish That Look Like A Dog 

There are thousands upon thousands of fish all over the world that it’s almost impossible to discover them all. You’re not likely to find many of the following fish at a fish store unfortunately, but you never know what you might come across on your travels. 

All of these fish bear an uncanny resemblance to a dog in one way or another, but also have a lot of interesting traits of their own. From where they can be found in the world’s waters to the captivating ways they manage to find food, all of these fish are very astonishing. 

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1. Dogface Pufferfish

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  • Scientific Name: Arothron nigropunctatus
  • Diet: The dogface pufferfish has a varied diet; they typically rely on small crustaceans and mollusks, while also snacking on algae and coral. However, they are also known to feast on fish they encounter that are either ill or about to pass. 

The dogface pufferfish is easily the fish that looks the most like a dog in any body of water in the world. After all, it’s called a dogface pufferfish for a reason.

It’s almost unbelievable how much this fish’s face looks like a puppy, from its beady eyes to its mouth that looks somewhat like a snout. When they open their mouths, it sometimes looks like they’re smiling.

You can also see a similarity in the skin of a dogface pufferfish, with its white coloring and speckles of black spots. The pattern is similar to a marled pattern on a dog.

This fish also has a tail, but it fans out with a standard fish-like, fanned fin. Some of these pufferfish can be found in other colors, and they usually have dark circles around their large eyes. 

The dogface pufferfish is mainly found in various reefs throughout the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This particular pufferfish doesn’t grow to be very large, usually only growing to under 13 inches at the most.

True to their name, the pufferfish will expand its body and face into a big ball when it’s trying to scare away other fish. 

As tempting as it would be to get close to a dogface pufferfish if you were ever fortunate enough to encounter one, it would be unwise. This pufferfish, like many others, is one of the most poisonous and potentially lethal sea creatures in the world. 

2. Common Stargazer

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  • Scientific Name: Kathetostoma laeve
  • Diet: The common stargazer eats small fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans, and will bury itself in the sand so it can pop up and startle its prey before feasting on them. 

The stargazer is a bizarre looking fish that is often compared to a pug. It’s easy to see why this comparison sticks, given how beady and puffed out this fish’s eyes are.

They also have that signature scrunchy face that a pug has which makes them look adorably out of sorts. There are a few fish that fall into the stargazer family, with many having this interesting visage. 

The common stargazer is perhaps the fish that looks most like a pug within the stargazer family. Their big eyes sit on the top of their heads, and they have fairly large mouths.

Like a pug, their mouths look like they’re in a permanent frown. When a common stargazer’s mouth hangs open, they have that similar silly look that a pug or other small dog has. While this fish is somewhat endearing due to their strange looks, one should never try to get close to a common stargazer.

They have spines full of venom on various parts of their body, and they also have the ability to generate electricity to shock others when needed. That said, some will catch and cook these fish, which kills the venom. 

3. Synodontis Catfish

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  • Scientific Name: Synodontis multipunctatus
  • Diet: The synodontis catfish is known as a scavenger, eating up bits of algae, remnants of fish flakes, and dead plant matter or random scraps of food. They will also eat live foods if they can manage. 

A synodontis is often compared to a cat because of its barbels near its mouth. However, this spunky fish has a pattern that is quite akin to a dalmatian’s.

The typical synodontis catfish have bodies that are a creamy color, with lots of black spots all over. The pattern is very similar to a spotted dog, even if the colors somewhat vary from fish to fish. 

You can also see a similarity between dogs and the synodontis catfish by looking in their eyes, which are bulbous and beady. Their fins definitely set them apart from dogs though, being fairly pronounced albeit somewhat translucent.

This catfish is usually found in various African waters and seem to prefer living in lakes. 

The synodontis catfish is one fish on this list that you can keep in your home aquarium, and many people love having this fish at home for the way it helps to keep a tank clean.

That said, there are some synodontis catfish that are too large or too unruly to keep at home. Most don’t grow past a few inches, but some get as big as two feet long. 

4. Giraffe Catfish

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  • Scientific Name: Auchenoglanis occidentalis
  • Diet: The giraffe catfish is a bottom dwelling fish who will snap up what it can find, from various plants to invertebrates to larvae. 

You’d likely expect a giraffe catfish to have more characteristics of a giraffe. However, one can see the likeness to a dog within the length of a giraffe catfish’s face.

One might say it looks a lot like the face of a hound, a greyhound, or a whippet. As a catfish does, their face also has some long, whiskery barbels, and their eyes are dark and bulbous like a dog’s. 

The giraffe catfish is native to various African waters, mainly living in lakes and streams. It tends to swim around the bottom of those bodies of water. They tend to be varied shades of brown with some muted spotting throughout their bodies.

While there is still a lot left to learn about the giraffe catfish, it’s estimated they will span between two and three feet when fully grown. 

5. Hairy Frogfish

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  • Scientific Name: Antennarius striatus
  • Diet: The hairy frogfish is a carnivore who likes to camouflage itself amongst coral and other aquatic plants before catching nearby fish in its mouth. 

The hairy frogfish is a hilariously adorable sea creature that looks like a very fluffy, long-haired dog. Now, their face doesn’t look like a dog per se, but with all of the spiny extensions all over its body, it sure does look soft and fluffy.

It actually has a face that looks similar to a pufferfish, which many say looks like a dog in its facial expressions. 

The hairy blob that is the hairy frogfish can be found hanging out at the bottom of warm waters throughout the ocean, though they are usually found in waters between South America and Africa. That said, you’re not likely to ever see one of these in real life, as they are excellent hiders. 

Their camouflaging ability allows them to blend into their surroundings by changing colors, and their hairy spines will help them blend in with the various seaweeds and corals they like to hang out near.

They have some spines that are longer than others, which they’ll use to wave around like a worm to attract their potential meal towards them. 

They also have fins that they use to walk on along the ocean’s floor, perusing various things to eat. One of these round fish only grows to be about four inches. 

6. Dog Snapper 

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  • Scientific Name: Lutjanus jocu
  • Diet: The dog snapper likes to eat fish and invertebrates, and will usually wait until nighttime to ambush their food. 

The dog snapper has the word dog in its name, but it doesn’t look as much like a dog as some of the other fish on the list. However, once this fish opens its mouth, one can easily guess why this fish got the name it has.

The snapper has some very large canine teeth that hang slightly out of its mouth, which can be quite jarring. 

Otherwise, the dog snapper has an olive and brown complexion with fanned dorsal fins, pectoral fins that sit close to the body, and a standard finned tail. Towards their bellies, they tend to get lighter, giving them a sort of ombre effect. They also tend to have thin blue stripes below their eyes. 

Most dog snappers will grow up to 30 pounds and about two feet long. They tend to be found in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, though they tend to stick close to the reefs of those areas.

Some people like to catch dog snappers and cook them up, but they are known to make people sick because of their habitats. 


While there aren’t many fish in the sea that look like a dog, the fish that look like a dog on this list are truly uncanny and awe-inspiring to look at. Like dogs, some of these fish are good at hunting, but unlike dogs, most of these fish don’t want to be anywhere near humans. 

Animals that look like other animals will never cease to be amazing, showing us once again just how incredible nature is. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Fish Is Most Like A Dog?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of housing a pacu in their aquarium will often compare them to dogs with many of their behaviors. They have the same kind of fun personalities that will instantly charm anyone. 

If you were to put your hand in the aquarium, you’d be surprised to learn that a pacu will likely swim right to it in an effort to get some strokes from you.

They are also known to start recognizing their humans after seeing them around for some time, and they will even eat out of some human’s hands. 

Is There A Fish That Barks?

Believe it or not, there has been one fish that has been heard barking; the piranha. It’s unknown if all piranhas exhibit this behavior, but ones swimming about in South American waters have been found to do so.

It appears they do this when trying to make themselves appear scary, which isn’t that difficult for piranhas to do without barking. 

What Is A Dogfish?

There is, in fact, a fish known as the dogfish, but it doesn’t look anything like a dog so it didn’t make this list. A dogfish actually looks much more like a small shark.

They have that signature dorsal fin that a shark has, and their tails are also a similar shape. They are even similar in coloring to some kinds of sharks. 

It seems as though this kind of fish was named after a dog because of the way they tend to hang out in packs and chase after other fish. Other than this behavioral characteristic, the name doesn’t quite fit the fish. 

Ian Sterling

I've been keeping fish for over 30 years and currently have 4 different aquariums – it's an addiction. I'm here to teach you everything there is to know about fishkeeping.

I also use this site as an excuse to spend lots of money on testing and reviewing different aquarium products! You can find my reviews here.

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