"Not for the fastidious" You'll hear that all the time, and it's true. Prepare yourself to become an expert on vacuum cleaners. If hair in your food's going to really turn you off, this might not be the best breed for you.
Answering your question... I wouldn't worry too much about it, these are things you can't plan ahead. I had a string of long life expectancy dogs as a child and TBH... two were stolen, once was run over by car, and the other died of parvovirus (when it was not clear the virus had spread to dogs). Then we got an old mongrel that the vet said must be 4 yrs old provided she had not eaten other thing than bones (they measure with seeing how "used" the teeth have been). She also said that probably would live for 4-5 yrs more... and the dog lived 16! So you can imagine.
In terms of coping with loss... well when I was less than 7 I miss the dogs but would happily get another one immediatly, after ten I didn't wanted to get another for 2 yrs. It is hard on children but as somebody else has said in mumsnet... pets are a good way for children to learn to cope with death.
HMC - I grieved badly for our dog when I was about 7. We got her "2nd hand" and only had her a few weeks when it turned out she had a serious disease. My mum had taken her to the vets thinking she just had a touch of kennel cough, next thing I knew she was stood in the front doorway holding an empty lead and collar and bawling her eyes out. Ooo, tears are welling up now and I'm nearly 35! The dog was a lovely little parson's jack russel.
Even though I was as distraught as I think it's possible for child to be, I don't think it affected me in an adverse way. I badly wanted to get another one but mum couldn't bare to. We got a cat instead and I fell in love with that. I have just always really loved dogs - even when they bit me (lots of strays back in the 70's is seem to remember..).
I think the happiness your family will feel having a dog will outweigh the sadness of losing it. Personally, it would never occur to me to ask this particular question. It's just part of life, and I'm sure you will handle the situation better than my poor mum did when the time comes. Good luck!
Thanks for your doggy loss survival story Charleypops...it sounds like you were thoroughly miserable but managed to deal with it...and Chandra, I think you are right...it is an important lesson in life.
Oooh I can't wait to start contacting breeders etc.
Can't bear to think of a beloved pet dying. My lovely Golden Retriever Max had to be put to sleep when I was 12/13 and I will never forget seeing my mum coming back from the vet, she'd cried all the way home and seeing her come back alone was heartbreaking.