A five-year-old Greymouth girl has undergone surgery after a "horrendous" dog attack left her with a chunk out of her face.

Police are investigating the attack, which occurred about three weeks ago.

Area commander Inspector John Canning said police officers had described the injuries as "horrendous".

The dog had since been put down.

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At the time of the attack the girl was being looked after by a babysitter.

It was initially investigated by Grey District Council dog control staff, who referred the matter to the police because of the serious injuries.

A council spokesman confirmed the incident but said they could not comment further because it was in the hands of the police.