I would definitely agree to go to a shelter and just look around, with no specific breed in mind....I adopted my dog 4 years ago from a shelter....and he is a pit bull...and he is more friendly and careful with kids (and just all-around VERY people-friendly)than any dog I've ever seen. I adopted him when he was 1 1/2 and BIG and have never had a problem with him. There are traits that each breed possesses that actually stick with them, but overall each dog has its own personality and can be completely opposite of what everyone else "says" they are. Go walk around some shelters and look at all the dogs available for adoption. A lot of the dogs in shelters make great pets also for the simple fact that they appreciate the small things in life....you can tell they don't take for granted the love, food, home, etc that you provide them. Its like they know that you saved them....each dog has its unique story and many dogs have been through hell and back and the best thing that anyone could do for them is give them a safe home. :)
We just got a shepherd/boxer mix and she is great with my three year old daughter.There is the occasional play nipping but we are working on that.Besides that she is great.Learns fast,active,and at night just wants to curl up in her bed and watch tv with the family.
Well, I saw a couple posts mention them, but I would definitely recommend an American Pitbull too. They are awesome. I've never met a mean one and they are so patient with children. I have a 13month old and my pits are great with him. He crawls all over them and they just give him kisses on top of the head. They are active outdoors, lazy bones inside the house and are a very healthy breed. I help out at a local rescue org. and they ALWAYS have pits to be adopted. In fact I just recently adopted the foster that I had. He was so great with my son, I thought he would make him a good pal to grow with. Whatever you chose for your family I know you will make the best of it, so best of luck with your decision and I'm sorry for your loss.