I have had two airedales a male and a female. Of the terriers, I think they are a little more laid back than the smaller ones. They can be terrors as puppys, they are very playful and inquisitive, and too smart sometimes. lol But they are excellent with children and are very good watchdogs. I got mine when my son was almost two. But, the main problem I had with mine, was dog aggression, as with most terriers. Once they are confronted, they don't want to back down. If you socialize, take the dog to obedience classes and give it lots of love and attention it will be a very nice dog to own. But, they do require lots of grooming at the groomer. They are very protective, one day my son decided he was running away from home and going to live with his Nanny, he was 5. She only lived a few houses down from us but there was a large field between the houses. Nelson stayed with Todd the entire time. He did not leave his side, and stayed with him at his Nanny's until Todd decided he wanted to live back home. lol I went and got both of them. He was big enough to scare people with his looks, and had a loud bark. Most strangers were afraid of him because of that. Personally I think it would be a very good dog for a first time dog owner. Just make sure you teach the kids respect for the dog, and vice versa. And be prepared for lack of sleep while housebreaking. I think Gempress had some very good advice. To me, I think a terrier is the best dog to start with if you plan on going into the true guardian breeds later. They are tenacious, but a good controllable size to start with. You don't need a trained guard dog to start with. I think you on the right track. Good luck, and keep us posted. We are here to help. And just to set the record straight, the majority of the true guardian breeds are very good with Children. I am talking their protective instinct is bred into them, they are not trained to be protective. There is a difference, I would never recommend one for a first time dog owner.