If you are thinking about being a dog owner, whether it's your first time or your first time considering a new breed, you'll want to check out The Dog Selector: How to Choose the Right Dog for You by David Alderton.
The Dog Selector provides an overview of 130 popular dog breeds with the goal of pairing a potential owner with the right type of dog for his or her lifestyle. Alderton provides a brief history of each breed as well as a "canine characteristics" chart which covers personality, exercise requirements, typical behavior at home and in public, grooming requirements, and common health issues. Of course, you'll see a picture of each dog and sometimes a puppy too!
Each chapter features ten breeds (which can vary widely in size and look) which share common characteristics that would make them good for beginners, or low-maintenance (and high-maintenance too, if you're brave and energetic), or good for people with allergies, or good for families, etc.
One of the most common reasons dogs end up in shelters is because people are unaware of the natural characteristics of the breed they choose to bring home. Don't make that mistake! Browse The Dog Selector then perhaps find more in-depth information on the breed(s) that most interest you.
Speaking of animal shelters, The Dog Selector is a great resource whether you plan on buying from a breeder or adopting from a shelter. While you're never guaranteed a purebred at a shelter, you will often find dogs with dominant breed characteristics. Being familiar with popular breeds and which breed is the best fit for you, will help you make a more informed decision when adopting.