Update: I am now convinced that the Aquatic Ape theory is wrong . So much of this post is irrelevant. But I still believe that we should be uplifting animals.
Elaine Morgan gave an interesting TED talk about human evolution and the theory that our ancestors lived in the water . The aquatic ape theory explains why humans are the only primates that have almost no body hair and why we can consciously control our breathing (which is essential for speech and which is apparently rare among land mammals).
So it seems that when (not if) we start a program of uplifting animals to the same status as humans a good starting point would be animals with an aquatic history. So we want animals that are friendly towards humans, reasonably intelligent, and which can be trained. Animals that can work well on dry land would be most convenient as are animals that can be owned domestically, so dolphins are not good candidates.
There are a number of dog breeds that have been specifically bred for operation in water . This includes dogs bred for assisting fishermen (such as the Spanish Water Dog)  and for hunting in marshes (the majority of Water Dogs ). Even dogs that have not been bred for aquatic work can be very expressive in their barks (as I’m sure every dog owner has observed), so an aquatic dog should have the potential for greater speech.
So it seems to me that the Norwegian Puffin Dog offers great benefits for dexterity  which combined with slightly more speech potential from some water dogs should give a good start to the breeding program.
CNN has an interesting article on the intelligence of dog breeds . It seems that the top 5 are:
- Border collies
- German shepherds
- Golden retrievers
- Doberman pinchers
The Poodle being a water dog and the second most intelligent breed of dog seems to have some good characteristics for uplift, so a Poodle/Puffin-dog cross should do well.
Recently I have been reading Michael Anissimov’s blog at AcceleratingFuture.com which concerns Transhumanism, AI, nanotechnology, and extinction risk . A large part of Michael’s blogging concerns the development of Friendly Artificial Intelligence (FAI) , this is a type of AI that would not destroy us by accident or malice if it gains the ability to self-improve at a rapid rate (and therefore vastly exceed human capabilities in a small amount of time). It seems to me that if we can uplift dogs to a level equivalent to humans and have them still like us then we will have achieved a significant step towards developing general non-human intelligences that are sympathetic to us.
-  http://etbe.coker.com.au/2009/08/11/aquatic-apes/
-  http://www.ted.com/talks/elaine_morgan_says_we_evolved_from_aquatic_apes.html
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_dog
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Water_Dog
-  http://etbe.coker.com.au/2007/02/15/a-good-dog-for-uplifting/
-  http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/08/07/smart.dogs/index.html
-  http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/michael/blog/
-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_artificial_intelligence