Behavioural characteristics associated with dog bites to children presenting to an urban trauma centre

Inj Prev. 2011 Oct;17(5):348-53. doi: 10.1136/ip.2010.029868. Epub 2011 Mar 28.


Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites presenting to hospital emergency departments (ED), but there are gaps in understanding of the circumstances of such bites. The objective of this study was to characterise the behavioural circumstances of dog bites by interviewing children ≤17 years (or parent proxies for children ≤6 years) presenting with dog bite injuries to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia about the bite incident, its setting and associated interactions. Of 203 children enrolled, 51% were <7 years old and 55% were male. 72% of children knew the biting dog. Most bites to younger children occurred during positive interactions, initiated by the child, with stationary, familiar dogs, indoors. Most older bitten children had been active (eg, outdoors), unfamiliar with the dog and not interacting. Whereas face bites predominated (70%) in the younger group (<7 years), bites to extremities predominated (72%) in the older group. Recognition of the two distinctive behavioural and circumstantial subgroups of dog bites that emerged can lead to more effective prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Health