1. First, and most importantly, what dog do you want to look like? Everybody knows that- just like married couples- dog owners begin to resemble their dogs. Additionally, in the short time we have had our dog, I have found that people will often refer to you as the animal's mommy or daddy (obviously, these people were educated by preschoolers).
2. Do you have children? If this is true, it is best to analyze their personalities and match them as closely as possible to a dog breed. Then decide what you can handle. Can you handle another Border Collie, who are very intelligent but become destructive when not challenged sufficiently each day? What about a West Highland Terrier, who have little interest in cuddling? If you have kids hanging on you all day long, are you sure you want to add a Whippet to the home who are known to be like Velcro to their owners? You might not be able to pick your children, but you can pick your dog.
3. What size dog do you want? The size of a dog is directly related to the size of their output. How much dog job are you comfortable picking up and bagging when you're out for your walks?
4. Do you have realistic expectations for your dog's role? Dogs are only good nannies in Disney cartoons... dang.
5. Does the dog shed? Or, rather, do you shed? Personally, I decided I can hardly keep up with the amount of hair I alone shed. I didn't need another animal that sheds in our home.
Well, after research ad nauseum (as my hubby coined it) it turns out the answer for us was a miniature schnauzer. Naturally, I matched her coat to my hair color: black with silver.
So far, she's been great and is a little sweetheart. Except at 4 in the morning when she shrieks like a monkey. But, that's a story for another day.