[S]ometimes you can judge a dog’s behavior by its name, because the owner usually bestows the name, and if it’s a silly/pleasant name like Flapjack, you can kind of assume that the dog is very unlikely to be a biter. (And no, you can’t judge by breed. I’ve known very sweet [if gassy] Dobermans in my life, and I also knew a Chihuahua who took off the tip of his owner’s pinky finger. German Shepherds I’ve known have been the most variable —from my uncle’s sweet and well-trained dogs who will come huffing up to you and lie down with their head on your knee, to other people’s dogs who bark and lunge and seem violent.)
The one breed to which I give a wide berth is the Dalmatian; the spotty little bastiges brood. And they hold grudges better than you’d think possible; you tread on his tail when he’s 12 months old, and he’ll continue to scorn you at 12 years. Attempts at Disneyfication over the years have resulted in some very unhappy, disappointed children.
Back in the Nineties, a house a few blocks from me was occupied by a middle-aged British woman who owned a brace of Keeshonden, a generally agreeable Dutch breed; they acknowledged as their alpha a domineering little Pomeranian, who would go so far as to interrupt their brushings, essential for the Keeshond, to claim what he saw as his share of attention. It’s my understanding that the Pom originated as a much larger breed, but over the years has been shrunk to toy size; if you looked at this Pom and either of the Kees, you’d see the common Spitz-type ancestors.