If you’re thinking about getting a dog for your young family and want to know what breed is right for you, great! Getting a new dog is a wonderfully exciting experience but choosing the right breed is all-important. While there a huge number of non-pedigree options you could consider, we’ve compiled a list of six pedigree breeds that all have their own strengths and very distinct personalities. From the Schnauzer, a lovable oddball that can roam the apartment on its own for hours on an end, to the child-loving Lab, there’s something here for everyone.

English Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels are great for growing families as they get along well with children and are particularly tolerant of other pets too. Due to their small size, Spaniels are comfortable in apartments and are a great option if you’ve got limited time on your hands. They don’t like being left alone, but they don’t need a lot of exercise either, so they’re good for families that aren’t overly active, or in possession of a lot of real estate.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffies have garnered an unfavorable reputation largely because they’re part of the pit bull family. They’re thought to be aggressive and hard to socialize but that reputation is unearned. In fact, Staffies are highly intelligent dogs that get along well extremely well with small children and strangers too. They make for first-rate guard dogs, but if you want them to get along with other dogs in your home, think again.

Golden Retriever

It’s no surprise the Golden Retriever is commonly used as a care dog: these warm, intelligent animals want to be everyone’s friend, and they’re one of the most popular starting breeds of all. They’re friendly and tolerant and willing to obey your command. Do keep in mind that Golden Retrievers fare best in a spacious home and they need plenty of exercise too. If you’re living in a small apartment in a dense innercity, it’s not a good environment at all. But if you’ve got space, the Golden Retriever will be a loving addition to the family.

Border Terrier

Border Terriers are smart and they’re superb with children. Always eager to please, they’ll get along with just about anybody, and have a relaxed demeanor to boot, mixed in with a naughty independent streak. They also fare well in apartments, though they won’t appreciate being left alone day and night. Bear in mind that the coat needs plenty of grooming too.

Labrador Retriever

Labradors work up an appetite, requiring plenty of exercise and plenty of feeding too. But they’re one of the kindest, gentlest breeds around, great for families with space and young children. Labradors thrive in open spaces with big gardens and are not at all well suited to enclosed spaces, so if you’re in an apartment, consider another breed. Overall though, a Lab is a rite of passage for just about every dog-lover at some stage in life.

Miniature Schnauzer

Consider the Schnauzer a bit of an oddball. With his small head that turns to one side when observing you, he’s got a very prominent personality. As you walk through the house, expect your Schnauzer to stuck to you like glue.

Schnauzers absolutely love families and become very attached to their owners, always adding an extra flavor to social occasions. They are perfectly happy in small apartments too, and so long as you’re giving them plenty of attention when you’re around, they’ll be happy. But one major reason the Schnauzer works as a starter pet is that they can be left alone. While they crave attention when you’re around they’re perfectly happy to entertain themselves when you’re out. Given the hectic schedules most people are keeping – juggling family commitments and work too – this can be a real boon.