Dolphin or porpoise? Porpoise or dolphin? Are they the same? Are they different? One of the most common mistakes people make is this. They confuse these two.

They will see a porpoise and think its a dolphin. But no worries, we are here to provide you with the list of similarities and differences and after reading this you will never confuse one with another.

Dolphin vs Porpoise

Similarities between Porpoises and Dolphins

• Both of them belong to the same category of mammals i.e. cetaceans.
• Dolphins are more attracted towards humans than porpoises. Dolphins are more curious species.
• They are both highly intelligent brainy species. They have complex brains and their is a structure called melons in their forehead from where they produce sound waves. Impressive, right?
• In order to find their prey or to know what is around them or to connect with their fellows, they both use echolocation.
• They also have the same behaviour and colour.

Differences between Porpoises and Dolphins

They do look alike but if you look closely and pay enough attention you will realize they are not the same. They have a number of differences which sets them apart such as. They are as different as cats and dogs.

Porpoises belong to a group of family called Phocoenidae and there are only six known species of porpoise in the whole world. Whereas Dolphins belong to the family called Delphinidae and there are 36 known species of dolphins.


Head and beak – Dolphins have a bulbous head and long nose that is prominent on their face or a clear fine beak whereas porpoises have round face without the fine beak (a shorter one).
Teeth – They have different teeth as well. Porpoise have flat, spade shaped teeth while dolphins have cone shaped teeth.
Fins – Porpoises have triangular shaped dorsal fins and dolphins have curved dorsal fins.
Body and size – Porpoises are way shorter than dolphins. Dolphins are usually longer approximately six to twelve feet while porpoises are only seven ft. In length. Dolphins have a streamlined, sleeker body shape than that of porpoises. They are portly and chunky.
Acoustically – If you drop a hydrophone, you will be able to hear dolphins and their cacophony of sound but you wont be able to hear porpoises. They vocalize at a higher range than dolphins that is why we cannot hear them.
Porpoises doesn’t leap out of the water fully while dolphins do it all the time.
• Porpoises are less talkative than dolphins.
• Dolphins whistles through their blowholes but porpoises cannot do that due to their structurally different blowholes. They do produce a ‘puff’ sound.

Differences between Porpoises and Dolphins

Dolphins vs Porpoises

Porpoises and dolphins are so similar that you cannot distinguish between them. Ranging from their head to their voices, porpoises and dolphins are very different species.

If you keep in mind the above mentioned differences, then you will be able to tell the difference. It will take practice though. And No matter what their differences are, they both face the same threats such as climate change, habitat loss etc.

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