Here is my two cents' worth (well....maybe three!) I will share some advice for anyone thinking about getting any dog.
My DH and I have worked with a Rottweiler Rescue group for many years and have helped rescue, place and foster Rotties. I get upset that the mindset is that Rottweilers are "aggressive" simply because they are large and black. It is true that the breed is a bit stubborn and aloof. That will become an aggression issue IF the owner allows it. Aggression is not genetically-coded into any domestic dog breed. No - not even Dobies or GSD (German Shepherd). It is true as I said already that some breeds are strong-willed --- so couple that with a big, muscular body and you spell trouble if you do not establish your leadership with that dog by training, socializing and exercising the dog appropriately. Boredom, lack of a "job" to do, lack of proper exercise and training will allow ANY breed of dog become an aggressive dog! One of the most agggressive dogs I ever came into contact with was a Chihuahua-mix little demon. And conversely - one of the most gentle, loving, and affectionate dogs I have ever known was a Rottweiler.
You are correct that American Pit Bulls are great family dogs --- IF you keep the above rules in mind! Eleanor Roosevelt had Pits and loved them. I once knew a Pit who was the goofiest dog I ever went around! He would kiss and slobber all over you! But if you take one of the breed - cut his ears nearly off, dock his tail, starve him and beat him so he learns to fight....well I would not want to be near that dog!
Now --- my advice FWIW:
Go to the library and get a book that tells you the characteristics of the breeds of dogs. Then ask yourself some of these questions and match your answers with what you find out about the breed:
Take into account how much daily exercise you will give this dog. Every day. Can you walk or play outdoors at least an hour a day? or more? If you get a large breed dog, do you have the time and money to go to training sessions with the dog? Large breeds really should have professional training with their owners to learn exactly WHO is the Master. (or "Alpha Dog - even though I don't really like that term.)
How large are the rooms in your house? How "fancy" are the furnishings? Do you really care about dog hair all over the place? (Even in your food?) Dog nails can scratch hardwood floors or pull threads on certain carpet fibers.
Does anyone in the family have allergies to dust or animals? Are you willing to groom a dog or pay a groomer to do so? (Some breeds such as a Poodle or Schnauzer will cost you $50 or more to groom once every 2-3 months. The Giant Schnauzers can cost $75-$100 or more.)
Are your children going to help with feeding, playing and cleaning up? (Or will it become your job?!) Are your children easily scared or frightened of a big dog or do they scream and/or squeal when they play? I ask this because many dogs do not know how to interpret the noises that young children make at play and can sometimes become aggressive because the screams/squeals make the dog fearful or nervous. Then the dog can charge the child, knocking him down or bite out of fear. A dog that appears to be nervous around noisy kids is not a dog you should adopt!
Will you be able to afford the veterinarian costs (regular immunizations along with illnesses, possible surgeries, etc.)? Can you afford the food bills? Treats? Collars, toys and accessories? Please - def consider micro-chipping the dog! If he runs away or gets loose, then he can be returned to you! Micro-chipping involves introducing a small computer chip just under the dog's skin via a hypodermic needle and doesn't even make the dog wince. The cost is fairly cheap - especially when you consider that it will allow your best friend to come back to you if he decides to go on an adventure some day!
Why do you want a dog? Companionship? To guard your home when you are not there? What will you do with the dog when you go on vacation? How many hours a day will the dog be alone? Do you want a dog who will lie at your feet everywhere you go, seeking petting and affection? Or do you want a dog who is content to simply be in the room with you, but lying on his bed on the floor?
(Continued next post)