Choosing Flooring: Laminate or Hardwood?

Ah flooring...such a fun thing to consider, right?  Ok, maybe not so much, but it will definitely change the look of a house, and that part is fun.  At least to me!  So we had thought that we'd made a decision on flooring after visiting Lumber Liquidators the other day and finding a few really nice wood laminates.  On a side note, I never thought I would like laminate, but after seeing it at a friend's house and loving it, I realized I didn't know how great wood laminate could look.  Combine that with the durability of laminate over real hardwood flooring (hardwood is prone to scratching, and we have a 100-pound dog!) and we were sold.
 
The trick is finding a laminate that doesn't look like laminate- for me, that means going with either a high gloss variety, or a non-shine finish that's been hand scraped to give it a real wood look.  We also LOVE the look of very dark wood floors, but with a dog that sheds light-colored fur constantly and a dark wood coffee table that has to be dusted every other day because of that, we knew dark wood floors were out of the question.  Booo.  Fortunately, we found some pretty in-between colors that will probably help disguise our fur problem, while still satisfying our love of darker wood.  We've been told that it's smart to go with at least a 10mm option when using laminate, so our top two choices from Lumber Liquidators were the 12mm African Thuya Burlwood Laminate (a very high gloss option) and the 12mm Toasted Chicory Laminate, a slightly less glossy laminate.

When installed, the African Thuya Burlwood looks like this:



The Toasted Chicory is a slightly deeper color, with a little less of a glossy finish:


But in the end, we went with neither.  After considering the amount of cleaning I would need to do every day just to make sure our floors weren't constantly showing smudges, we realized the glossy look, while beautiful, just isn't for us.  And let's face it, with our dog, plus just general use of a floor (walking on it is the point right?) smudges are inevitable.  That brings me to our final choice, which we found at Home Depot, Pergo brand Hand Sawn Oak Laminate:


While I've only seen it in the store, this choice seems to be the best of both worlds- it has a nice, grainy texture that makes it look like real hardwood, the color is a perfect blend of dark and light to hide dust and undesirable shedding, and the non-glossy finish won't smudge.  I can't wait to see what it looks like once it's installed!  Not sure what your experience is with laminate vs. hardwood, but I would love to hear about it, especially if you know of any tips or tricks for cleaning.