"It is essential that previously assumed risk factors are reassessed as this study has revealed that prior beliefs such as bites typically being from familiar dogs are contested," said Carri Westgarth, researcher at the University of Liverpool in the UK.
In the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the team examined 694 people in 385 households and assessed their emotional stability.
The results showed that the people who owned several dogs were more than three times as likely to have been bitten than those who did not own dogs.
More than half of respondents reported that they had been bitten by a dog they did not know and one in four respondents said they had been bitten before.
One in three (33 per cent) dog bites required treatment, but only a small proportion (0.6 per cent) required hospital treatment.
While this is reassuring, even minor bites can cause significant emotional distress, the researchers stated.
"Dog bite prevention schemes may also need to target particular behaviours around dogs by different victim personality types," the researchers said.