Trust us, not all mixed breed dogs look like junkyard mutts (which come on, are pretty cute too). In fact, here is a rule of thumb: when one gorgeous dog breed mates with another gorgeous dog breed, the end results are -- wait for it -- pretty darn gorgeous. That is science, baby! Here are a number of wonderful examples of some of the most adorable mutts out there.
Every breed can be trained to learn almost every command. However, some breeds learn a lot faster than others - making them a lot easier to train. These highly intelligent breeds pick up a command after only about five or six repetitions, they more often respond on the first time you give the command, and they remember commands even if they are not practiced often. They also learn commands even when the trainer is inexperienced and makes mistakes. So if you do not have a lot of the time to spend dog training, or you are the impatient type who gets frustrated easily, choose a breed which has a high ease of training rating.
Most all dogs will get along well with children if they are raised with them. However, some breeds have a protective streak in them and may become aggressive with children who get to close at meal time (although this should not be tolerated), or aggressive with children they have never met. These breeds will likely see the children as being underneath themselves in the "pack order" and may try to dominate them.
You do not have to have own a large house to own a large dog (although a tiny apartment is not going to be big enough for one of the giant breeds). If you can take him outside for a good hour of two of exercise every day... a large dog can live in a small house or apartment just fine.