foosballwizard saidHow long does it take for a dog's true personality to show? For example, some dogs have a hyper and social attitude, while others may be very shy and reserved.
I am going to volunteer at a local animal shelter and hope to find a dog to eventually adopt. I was hoping that I would get to know a dog long enough to make sure it is a good match for me (btw I realize the dogs will act differently being trapped in a shelter than at home).
Thats a good idea - maybe you will find a shelter that will assist you to do that - some don't take on volunteers casually.
Depending on the age of the dog and its prior circumstances, you should get a reasonable idea of the personality of the dog.
Bear in mind that sheltered animals often have trust issues and while they will re-home, may face abandonment issues and anxieties due to that.
Dogs that haven't been socialised well can be reserved or aggressive from fear - theres a long road ahead for you if you choose to rescue, it can be very rewarding too.
Talk to some of the staff there too, find out as much of the history of the dog as you can.
Think about the types of things you will be doing with the dog, (running etc) think about the amount of time you will have to care for the dog, and also consider the food bills, budget for vaccinations (pet health insurance) , and other incidentals like toys to keep your dogs mind occupied.
Also think about taking some vacation to settle your new pal in, he/she will need to have some companionship until they settle at your place - it's not a puppy that can necesarily be confined to a crate in most cases, so you may need to establish barriers initially.
You will need to gradually get the dog used to the fact you wont be there all the time (unless you can take the dog with you to work)