An epidemiological survey of dog bites presenting to the emergency department of a children's hospital

J Paediatr Child Health. 1991 Jun;27(3):171-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1991.tb00380.x.


German shepherds are the most popular registered breed of dog in South Australia, but are also the most hazardous to children, biting more often and more severely. A study of the victims of dog bites presenting to the Emergency Department of the Adelaide Children's Hospital over an 18 month period revealed that, although many breeds were involved, only German shepherds were implicated more frequently than their prevalence in the community. Attacks occurred most often in a domestic setting involving a friendly dog that was known to the victim. Boys were more often bitten than girls and children aged 1-6 years most commonly involved. Injuries to the face and scalp were frequent and the usual ones to require admission for suture under general anaesthetic. Some scarring was a common sequel and resulting fear of dogs remained with some children. Most attacks were reported to be unprovoked and a previous biting history on the part of the dog was uncommon. Parents who are contemplating obtaining a dog for a family pet should be made aware of these facts and advised regarding the biting hazards and possible prevention. The German shepherd situation especially should be brought to their attention.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Dogs*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • South Australia / epidemiology