This small shark is identified by its elongated body which tapers dramatically to a slender tail. The skin color is generally brown to bronze, with a silver-colored belly. The shark greatly resembles the Soupfin Shark, but can be differentiated by its second dorsal fin which originates in advance of the anal fin. (In the Soupfin Shark, the second dorsal fin originates parallel to the anal fin.) This shark rarely exceeds 3 feet (.91 m) in length and is generally a bottom-dweller which hunts crabs, shrimps and smaller fish. The Brown Smoothhound shark is often found in bays and is regularly caught by fishermen casting lines from piers or from the shore.
The Smoothhound Shark prefers bays and sandy ocean bottoms. They can be found all along the west coast of North America from Baja California to northern Oregon. This shark sometimes occurs in a limited range in the coastal waters off South America.