Dog Whelk

Nucella lapillus


With a pointed snail-like shell, Dog Whelks live around the lower shore, wherever there are barnacles or mussels: its favourite food.

How to identify

Whelks are more pointed than periwinkles. The Dog Whelk is smaller than the Common Whelk, smoother than the Netted Whelk and more rounded than the Oyster Drill. Its shell colour is determined by what it eats; cream, grey and banded forms can be spotted.

Where to find it

Found all around our coasts.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

In the 1970s and 80s, Dog Whelk populations were seriously affected by the use of chemical anti-fouling paints on boat hulls containing tributyl-tin (TBTs). These paints caused female dog whelks to become male, leading to a decline in reproduction. The use of TBTs is now controlled, but chemical pollution can still be an issue for our marine animals, particularly as it builds up through the food chain. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Dog Whelk
Latin name
Nucella lapillus
Aquatic gastropods (e.g. sea snails)
Length: 5cm Average Lifespan: 7 years
Conservation status