When looking to buy or adopt a dog it is very important to research the breed and evaluate the specific dog that you are looking at. Many times people become focused on a breed because they like the typical qualities of the breed but the specific dog they find might be a little different than the breed standard.
The first thing to figure out is what type of dog you want. Not what breed, what type. Do you want a high energy, confident, guarding type dog or a calm, relaxed, couch potato? Guarding breed dogs are great if that meshes with your personality and lifestyle. German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, and Akitas are all guarding breeds that can be great in the right home. In the wrong home with owners that don’t provide strong leadership from day one they can be extremely dangerous. Border collies, Australian Shepherds, and Jack Russells are also great breeds but are extremely high energy and need huge amounts of physical and mental stimulation each day. In the right home they can be great, but in a home that doesn’t give them a job on a daily basis they can quickly start to develop anxiety, phobias, or aggression.
Dog breeds have been bred for a purpose and usually their behavior reflects that purpose. Usually Rottweilers are great guard dogs but that isn’t always the case. Once you have decided on what type of dog you want (guarding, high energy, calm) it is time to evaluate specific dogs to see if they are what you are looking for. When evaluating guarding breed dogs it is very important to look for a confident dog that likes new people. Good guarding behavior comes from confidence, a puppy that seems withdrawn or stand-offish with new people should be a big red flag. If you want a high energy dog make sure that you pick a dog that seems to like doing the things that you want to do on a daily basis. Throw a ball, run around, or bring a dog for him to play with to make sure that it is the right fit for you. If you are purchasing a puppy make sure to evaluate the parents to see if you like their temperament.
If you are looking for the perfect family dog that is friendly, calm, and eager to please I would suggest a Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, or Labrador Retriever. There are many great breeds out there, but these three are known to be great with dogs and children and are not typically prone to behavioral issues. The average Golden Retriever will be much more submissive than the average Akita but do not assume that will always be the case. With any breed make sure to evaluate the particular dog to make sure it is a good fit for your family. Good luck with your dog search and enjoy the results of picking the dog that is right for you.