First, I noticed a couple people suggesting lab/retriever mixes. Just had to point out that the full name of a lab is Labrador Retriever. Several breeds have “retriever” in the name, because that’s what they were bred to do: retrieve. So saying lab/retriever mix could mean a lab mixed with any of several retrieving breeds…golden retriever, flat-coated retriever, Cheasapeake Bay Retriever…
I personally have a lab/golden retriever mix. My previous dog was the same mix. My female looked more like a golden, with a little bit shorter fur. My boy looks like a lab, with the coloring of a stereotypcial golden. They were both friendly, patient, tolerant, and easy-going dogs without huge amounts of energy…but the thing with a mixed breed is there are no guarantees as to which traits they inherit (like my two of the same mix looking different). I love the mix, personally, and think they are awesome dogs, just likes labs and goldens are awesome dogs.
You said your husband doesn’t care for labs…does he not like their appearance, their energy, or is it just that EVERYONE has a lab and he wants something different? Knowing what it is that he doesn’t like will help us make a recommendation.
If you intend to have a cat, retrieving breeds are USUALLY good with cats. Breeds like GSDs and huskies tend to have high prey drives, and can be a danger to cats, (I know many GSDs raised with cats that are awesome with them, but there are many that don’t get along with cats). So do some research on the breeds/mixes you are interested in to get an idea of whether or not they tolerate cats, (I have a friend with a lab/GWP mix, and even though labs tend to get along with cats, GWPs usually don’t…her dog, that she’s had since eight weeks of age, had killed more than one cat).
I think you should start researching breeds that you are interested in NOW, and make a decision closer to your planned move, or better yet, after you’ve moved. Adopt a cat first, and settle in to your new home. This will allow you to get a better feel for your lifestyle…are you gone for long hours during the day, or do you have a short commute that will allow you to come home during lunch? Do you and DH sit around on the couch most nights, or do you like to go for long walks (or runs) around the neighborhood? Also, consider how many kids you hope to have, and how soon you’ll have them. Many breeds are high-energy as puppies, but mellow out after age two or so. And there are many who are high-energy forever. Would a lab, who often (but not always) mellow out after maturity be a good fit for you? Will you have time and enery to devote to a higher-energy breed after having a kid or two or three?
Would you be more comfortable with a large dog, or would a small dog give you more peace of mind? Along those lines, many breeds of small dogs are not recommended for families with young children. Large dogs can be good with children, but growing puppies/adolescents often don’t realize their size…so if you plan on having kids soon, you may want to consider one already fully-grown.
I know after your attack, the dog was sent to a shelter. But keep in mind that most shelters/rescues do temperament testing before placing a dog. Dogs with a known bite history are almost never adopted out. Also, I think you have an image of a shelter as being a place where you go pick a random dog from a row of cages and hope for the best. Many of the dogs in shelters have known histories, (with this economy, many people are surrendering well-loved family pets who have done nothing wrong, but the family was forced to move somewhere they couldn’t have a pet).
Also, similar to shelters in their mission, but different in their enviornment are rescues. Many rescues do not have a physical, brick and mortar building where the dogs are kept. Instead, they are fostered in homes around the area. The dogs are living as part of a family and the foster family can tell you a LOT about the dog’s personality. For example, we fostered a dog who tried to eat our cats…obviously not a good fit for a family with/intending to get a cat. We also fostered a dog who loved adults and was a total sweeheart, but was afraid of kids. There are also breed rescues, that focus on finding homes for one particular breed of dog, (for example, there is a local golden retirever rescue: the dogs they place are goldens, and the occasional golden/mix).
And not every dog in rescue is an adult. There are many puppies in shelters, too. Some born in rescue, and some surrendered after birth. Pet stores and breeders aren’t the only source for puppies (pet stores should NEVER be a source for puppies, since they support the puppy mill industry).
If you want a puppy from a breeder, you’ll want to make sure you are getting one from a responsible breeder. There is a whole thread on the topic at the top of this board, (it’s a sticky post), but some quick info for you…start with the breed club, either local or national, for the breed(s) you are interested in. They will usualyl have information on the breed, as well as a list of breeders. You want someone breeding titled dogs, because they most closely meet the breed standard. You will also want someone who does health testing, in effort to produce the healthiest dogs possible. Someone who tells you they don’t health test because they have healthy dogs…run the other way.
You will also want someone who breeds only one or two breeds…someone breeding many different breeds or breeding mutts (labradoodles, etc. are all mutts, not an acutal breed), is not a responsible breeder. They should only be breeding a few litters each year…or often, less frequently than that, (one of the most responsible GSD breeders I know breeds one litter every three or four years). They will more than likely NOT have both parents on site…even if they have both male and female breeding stock, a responsible breeder will rarely breed their own dogs togehter, because they are searching for the best possible mate for each individual dog. Often, that mate is in another town, in another state, or even across the country.
Good luck in your search!