"High Quality Dogs" don't only come from breeders. There have been comments here before from people saying you don't know what you get with mixed breeds, etc. etc.
My legacy of exceptional mixed-breed dogs:
Lupo, found on the streets of Tenerife, with his brother (adopted by a friend) at age 5 weeks. Smartest, most obedient, loyal dog I've ever known. Lived to the age of 13.
Kota and Keira, adopted from LAP rescue at age 10 after being abandoned by their family returning to Australia who didn't want to spend on relocating them. They had been with the family, from the SPCA, since they were puppies and 'dumped' at 9 years of age. Now age 15 and still going strong. Smart, affectionate, beautifully bonded.
Ah Chin, adopted into his retirement home from the nearby village (outside dog) at age 19. Smart, loving, clean (despite being an outside dog) and a real character! Passed away at 21 with bacon on his breath and a lipstick imprint on his nose.
Noone can, or should, tell you what to do, I'm just appealing to you to consider adoption rather than purchase. There are some truly amazing dogs out there looking for homes.
The shelters are a much better place. Also you can see many different breeds of dog in one place and get a feel for them. +1 for fostering - if you don't know what you want then I worry you have little experience of what having a dog actually means. Fostering for a while will help you decide if you really do want one.
As for the moral question, I also have children and had them knowing full well that there are orphans. I'm sure you have a view on that too, in spite of the fact that I know you have neither dogs or children...
Thank you all so much for the quick responses! So far, I've checked out the SPCA already and I must say, there wasn't much of a broad spectrum when adopting there. Pretty must all of the purebreds have been on hold already whereas 90% of the shelter was full of mongrels. I'm going to drop some visits to some other animal rescue groups and see how it goes there. Also, can anyone suggest any medium sized breeds that are good family pets with high energy levels, are easy to train and shed and smell minimally?
Bringing a dog into your life is based on a connection you will make with the dog itself, and one it will make with you. Please don't discount mixed breeds in favour of a purebred. Puppies will pee and poop until trained, most dogs will shed a bit, some will smell a little (and some a lot, personally some of the smelliest dogs I've met have been labs), especially when wet. There will be accidents at home which need to be forgiven, perhaps even some things chewed up in the early days.
A rambunctious puppy becomes a happy, settled dog with a lot of human guidance and care. Regular walks, socialization (with people and other dogs) is essential and understanding that no dog is from a formula and one of the best things about a dog is seeing, understanding and loving their very different personalities.
I have a friend who has two "hong kong" dogs. The smaller one sounds perfect for you. These dogs have been extremely well trained, are short haired so they don't shed and are so friendly.
Sorry - the above sounds like an ad for my friends dog, it's not - its to show that a "hong kong" dog (I don't know if this is a breed or not, I didnt think so) would be a great choice - and there are loads of them in shelters because they are so common.
A lab sounds a bit large for you, but they are lovely dogs. I grew up with a collie - which are absolutely fabulous dogs imho and smaller than a labrador. But they do shed a fair bit of hair! And need a LOT of exercise. My collie was only about half collie - we never knew quite what the other half was - but that never made any difference to us. Mongrels or mixed breeds are often much healthier. Not sure why anyone wants a "pure" breed given the risk of inbreeding. Some of those "features" they breed for are actually very bad for the dog!