Your chances of being bitten by a dog may depend on your personality

March 26, 2019
Anissa Fritz, contributing writer

People who possess higher levels of insecurity, fear, instability and intrusiveness have increased likelihood of being bitten by a dog, according to a U.K. study.

(Piotr Wawrzyniuk/

Twenty-one fatal dog bite attacks have occurred in the U.K. within the last 10 years, according to a recent study “How many people have been bitten by dogs? A cross-sectional survey of prevalence, incidence and factors associated with dog bites in a U.K. community.” The study aimed to understand the reason behind the large number of attacks, and it found emotional stability to strongly correlate with the chance of being bitten-a finding that hasn't been revealed before.


The research was led by University of Liverpool's Carri Westgarth, BSc, MPH, PhD, from the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health. Westgarth was assisted by Robert M. Christley, BVSc, DipVetClinStud, MVetClinStud DipECVPH (PM), PhD, FHEA, MRCSV, and Megan Brooke.

Sample size and data

Data was collected from nearly 700 Chesire residents in the U.K. through in-person interviews as well as questionnaires that could be completed and mailed back or filled out online. Questions inquired about topics regarding the participant's dog ownership, dog bite history, and personal health and wellness.


Those who reported higher levels of emotional stability had lower chances of being bitten by a dog.

In comparison to females, males were 1.6 times more likely to be bitten.

Bites from unfamiliar dogs are more common than bites from dogs the individual knows.

Those who reported owning multiple dogs were over three times as likely to be bitten. This is believed to be a result of the owner having a higher risk of needing to break up dog fights.

Further discussion of emotional stability findings

Gender, mental health and the number of dogs owned by the individual are important factors in determining the likelihood of getting bitten by a dog. According to the study, “Negative indicators of emotional stability include descriptors such as insecurity, fear, instability and intrusiveness.” The significance of emotional stability has yet to be reported or studied in past research and therefore has much room for nuance and further examination.

Read the full article here.

Journal reference

Westgarth C, Brooke M, Christley RM. How many people have been bitten by dogs? A cross-sectional survey of prevalence, incidence and factors associated with dog bites in a UK community. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2018;72:331-336.