information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Dog cockle (Glycymeris glycymeris)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



The shell is thick, robust, almost circular in shape and up to 6.5 cm. The anterior hinge line curves more abruptly downwards than posterior. The shell is dull brown, yellow, or light purplish-red in colour. Shells can be either uniformly coloured or exhibit irregular concentric zigzags on a cream background. The periostracum is dark brown and remains as a broad band around the margins of the shell, and is course and velvety to the touch. The inside of the shell is usually brown within the pallial line. The inner surface of the shell has 6-12 teeth on either side of the beak.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found around the Shetland Islands, the Orkneys, the south and west coasts of Britain, Northern Ireland and Blacksod Bay, Ireland.

Global distribution

Distributed from Norway to the Mediterranean and west Africa.


This species is a shallow burrower in fine shell gravels or sandy/muddy gravels and can be found offshore to approximately 100 m depth.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Shell is thick and circular.
  • Uniform or zigzag colouring.
  • Dull brown, yellow or light purplish red in colour.
  • The inner surface of the shell has 6-12 teeth on either side of the beak.
  • Dark brown periostracum around the margin of the shell.

Additional information

Analaysis of dredge material revelaed that Glycymeris glycymeris is an important habitat for the hemichordate Rhabdopleura compacta (Stebbing, 1970).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  5. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  6. Stebbing, A.R.D., 1970. The status and ecology of Rhabdopleura compacta (Hemichordata) from Plymouth. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 50, 209-221.

  7. Tebble, N., 1966. British Bivalve Seashells. A Handbook for Identification, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: British Museum (Natural History), Her Majesty's Stationary Office.


This review can be cited as:

Carter, M.C. 2008. Glycymeris glycymeris Dog cockle. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 14-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008