Surf's Up Magazine

Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab

  • Date: February 13, 2024
  • Time to read: 5 min.

There are a few significant distinctions between Dungeness crab and snow crab, whether you’re considering eating them for your next meal or just want to learn more about their life cycles.

While both of these crabs are delectable and utilized in a variety of recipes, how do they differ as living creatures?

In this post, we’ll go over all of the distinctions between Dungeness crabs and snow crabs, including their physical appearances and preferred habitats.

We’ll also discuss their behavioral differences and how long they live in the wild. Let’s get started learning all there is to know about crabs!

dungeness crab vs snow crab

Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab: Comparisons

Let’s explore some of the key pints of comparisons between two species of crab.


The Dungeness Crab weights 2-3 pounds and measures 8-10 inches not including legs. The snow crab weighs 3-4 pounds and measures 6-8 inches not including legs.


The Dungeness crab molts several times in a season and enjoys shallow, sandy areas of the coast. It lives up to 2000 feet deep. The snow crab resides at 1000 feet deep or less. It enjoys burrowing in mud and it molts frequently during adolescence slowing its molting down into adulthood.


The Dungeness crab has short legs and large claws. It has an orange or rust colored shell in an oval shape, and it may even be purple. The snow crab has elongated legs and smaller claws. Older crabs often have spotted shells which are red or orange when they are young.


The Dungeness crab lived between 8-13 years. The snow crab lives between 15-20 years.

dungeness crabs caught
Dungeness Crab Catch


The Dungeness crab lives in the western United States and northern reaches of Great Britain in temperate ocean waters. The snow crab prefers the colder, icier water of the north Atlantic and Pacific.

Snow Crab vs Dungeness Crab: Differences

Like the snow crab vs king crab, Dungeness crabs and snow crabs differ in a variety of ways. The Dungeness crab’s body is larger than that of a snow crab.

The bodies of snow crab legs are a bit thicker than Dungeness crab legs. Snow crabs live an average of 3-7 years longer than Dungeness crabs. Finally, the habitat preferences and geographical locations of these crabs differ significantly.

Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab: Size

The size and weight of Dungeness crabs vs snow crabs is an interesting comparison. Dungeness crabs weigh 2-3 pounds on average, while snow crabs weigh 3-4 pounds on average. Snow crab’s overall body measurement, on the other hand, is smaller than a Dungeness crab’s.

Why do snow crabs weigh more than Dungeness crabs on average? The fact that snow crab legs are longer than those of a Dungeness crab is likely one reason. A snow crab’s body, on the other hand, measures no more than 6-8 inches in length, whereas a Dungeness crab’s grows to 8-10 inches.

snow crab
Snow Crab

Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab: Behavior

Both Dungeness crabs and snow crabs have similar behaviors, although there are some distinctions between them. Dungeness crabs molt frequently in one year, but snow crabs molt only during their adolescent years and less into adulthood. In addition, snow crabs prefer colder temperatures than Dungeness crabs do.


You may be doubtful, but you should be able to tell the Dungeness crab from the snow crab on first view.

This is due to the fact that the snow crab has significantly longer legs than those of a Dungeness crab. In addition, their hues vary from one another as these crabs age, particularly if they become older.

When snow crabs are young, they are orange or red only, whereas Dungeness crabs retain a rusty orange color for the most of their lives.

Snow crabs may also have purple tints while Dungeness crabs develop an olive sheen or darker spots with age. If you’re interested in eating snow crab, this is generally a good and delicious.

Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab: Lifespan

The average life span of a snow crab in the wild is significantly greater than that of a Dungeness crab. While both snow crabs and Dungeness crabs are taken and eaten as part of the fishing industry, the snow crab has a longer overall lifespan on average.

The Dungeness crab lives an average of 8 to 13 years, while the snow crab lives an average of 15 to 20. Although this is a significant lifespan difference between these two crabs, it’s uncommon for either species to live beyond five to seven years in total.

dungeness crab
Fully Grown Dungeness Crab


The dwelling preferences of Dungeness crabs and snow crabs are very distinct.

Snow crabs may only be found in northern oceans, such as the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, whereas Dungeness crabs can be found in more temperate climates, most notably off the coast of California or England.

In fact, Dungeness crabs were named after the region in England where they were first discovered!

The preferred habitats of these crabs vary in certain ways. While both like digging in mud or sandy seas, the Dungeness crab can be found at considerably greater depths than the snow crab. In addition, while Dungeness crabs prefer estuaries and shallow water, snow crabs prefer rocky areas overall.


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