Information was obtained by telephone interview from 100 dog owners whose dog had bitten a person, and from 134 victims of bites by a dog not owned by the victim. Three-quarters of the victims were female and aged from 21 to 60 years. The majority of the dogs were owned, male, two to six years old, over 10 kg in bodyweight and belonged to the popular breeds: collies, cocker/springer spaniels, terrier breeds, Jack Russell terriers, German shepherd dogs, golden retrievers and crossbreeds. The numbers of bites by the different breeds indicated that those that inflicted the most bites were the popular breeds rather than the breeds with any greater propensity to bite. Most attacks were rapid single bites and in 50 per cent of the cases, neither the owner nor the victim was able to identify any signal of the dog's intention to bite. Overall, 21 per cent of the incidents were rated as ‘serious’ and 2 per cent as ‘life threatening’. One fifth of the dogs were euthanased as a result of the incident. Half the incidents required professional medical assistance for the victim. Almost half the incidents took place while the victim was walking or passing close to the dog's territory, or while the victim was interacting with the dog at home.