wow i wasn't expecting so many replies in such a short space of time!
To Amy86 (and a few others) - thanks for your helpful and constructive advice. I'm glad at least someone understands what it's like to be someone who has never had a dog before but is trying to learn as much as possible before making such a huge commitment.
To everyone else (i'm sure you can guess who you are!): Firstly, If i didn't care about the dog i was buying i probably wouldn't have gone to the effort of posting on a forum and doing research! I just thought I could post on here to learn more about the best way to go about buying a puppy responsibly
In regards to the general public perception of cross-breeds; that does come from everywhere like dog websites, magazine and newspaper articles when they do a feature on pets etc. I'm certainly not trying to upset people by posting random comments which have no factual basis.
If you honestly care so much about the welfare of dogs; you should probaby try and be a little more constructive in your "advice". Not everyone is a dog expert and I'm sure a lot of people who are looking to learn more would be VERY put off by your negative comments.
So, after all that I guess I need some advice on which breed of dog to consider. We are looking for one that is ok with young children and being inside. As my partner and I work on the weekdays we also need a breed that would be ok on his own for 7-8 hours a day in a smallish backyard. Rest assured that we fully plan to give him lots of love and attention after work and on the weekends. We have a large park opposite our home that would be great for walks and playing. We were looking at Maltese and Shihtzus because we read on a WEBSITE that these dogs are ok with smaller spaces; and that the cross-breed version had less health problems.
If anyone has any useful advice that I can take on board I would really appreciate it.