A third Irish wolfhound has been euthanized by an animal control unit following a savage attack on a newspaper delivery woman in Dundedin, New Zealand. 

The victim, who is believed to be in her 50s, will need several operations, including plastic surgery and may never walk again after she was attacked by three Irish wolfhounds at about 6:30 am last Tuesday.

All three dogs have now been put down and the Dunedin City Council said it would seek to prosecute the dogs’ owners.

Irish Wolfhound Club New Zealand president Doug Wylie, of Christchurch, said the attack was unprecedented, reports Stuff.co.nz.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the victim and family and hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our thoughts are also with the owners of the hounds who will also be distraught.

"While not wishing to detract from the seriousness of this attack but in defense of the breed, this type of incident is unheard of in Irish Wolfhounds in New Zealand, known globally as the 'gentle giants of the dog world.’”

"I guess this is a big wake-up call to all dog owners and the public in general to be aware that even the most docile breed can react under certain circumstances."

The dogs’ owner was walking them along Walter St where the victim was delivering Otaga Daily Times newspapers.

The victim’s partner, who was with her at the time, told the Otago Daily Times: "[She] fell to the ground in fright and rolled down a big bank and the dogs just took to her, just tearing chunks off."

"It has made me really, really angry."

He said the attack was so frenzied it was "more like a shark attack.”

He described one of her calf muscles as being "virtually gone.” 

According to The Otago Daily Times, the dogs tried to attack the woman’s face and throat, leading to defensive wounds on her arms. 

Peter Hanlin, of the Dunedin City Council's animal services department, interviewed the dog owner who had been walking the three dogs on leads. He said "it is a bit of a grey area as to what prompted the incident.”

One dog started the attack and "it progressed from that.”

Read more: Ten facts you didn't know about Irish wolfhounds