They say dogs look like their owners, but the best dog is one who is like you in character and temperament. Is your household lively? You need a lively dog. Is your household quiet? You need a quiet dog. If you love going for long walks don't get a dog that wants to stay home. If you don't have time to initially devote to your dog, don't get a dog that needs extensive training.
Don't rush into getting a dog, take your time. Expect to keep your dog for over 10 years.
When someone mentions a breed, read all you can about that breed. Your local library has many books on all sorts of breeds. Search online for each individual breed's National Club.
Don't lean towards one particular breed just because your friend has a perfect dog of that type. Dogs, like humans, are all individuals. Your dog won't be a copy of your friends', personalities and temperaments differ greatly.
Before you find yourself a dog, find a trainer. Know where the local dog training classes are and go and watch them. Watch 2 or 3 dog trainers and choose which one will work with you and your dog. The trainer will also take the time to learn about your plans for the puppy and what your family lifestyle is like.
Talk to breeders. They breed their dogs with others of the same kind. Locally they all know each other. If the breeder isn't about to have a litter of puppies, maybe their friend is.
Here are some common breeds of dog that fit in well with a family
1) Shiba Inu
2) Boston Terrier
4) Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
5) American Eskimo
Whether to get a male or female is personal choice. Here are the ups and downs of each one.
Pros: not usually as "high-strung" as males can be
Cons: sometimes a bit more difficult to train as females get insulted easier than males; some females can be very snotty about training and ground rules; some females can be less tolerant of a lot of things; some females seem to always have their own "agenda" and ideas about how things are really supposed to be
Pros: usually easier to train as they are willing to please and not as sensitive to being told "no"; great with active children as they're more willing to be part of the group and get involved in everything
Cons: if left un-neutered for the first year, can develop life-long male dog-dog dominance issues (meaning they may not get along well with other male dogs); some males have a lot more energy and are on their feet a lot more than females are willing to be.
When you've decided what the right breed is for you, wait. Don't get a dog now because it's available and then wish you'd waited for one that is a better fit.
When you get a dog you are making a commitment to care for that animal for the rest of its life.