When choosing a canine companion to add to your family, there are many things to keep in mind. The decision can be overwhelming as each breed has its own appearance, temperament, coat type and energy level.

To help potential dog owners find the right breed for them, the American Kennel Club (AKC), which recognizes 177 different breeds, offers the following tips:

Living space: If you have limited living space, consider a toy breed, such as the Yorkshire terrier or Chihuahua. Yorkies are determined, brave and energetic. Chihuahuas are alert, intelligent and gentle. Both breeds are tiny and need minimal exercise, making them ideal dogs for small apartments.

If you live in a larger home, you may want to consider a working or sporting breed like a Great Dane or golden retriever. Known as a "gentle giant," Great Danes are strong yet gentle, energetic and friendly. Golden retrievers are also friendly, active and have an eager-to-please attitude. Both breeds require daily exercise and make great family pets for those who have lots of open space, such as a back yard.

Activity level: If you are extremely active and love the outdoors, you may want to consider a border collie or Labrador retriever. Border collies are extremely energetic and love to play around in the yard. They require daily exercise and make great running partners. Labrador retrievers are also very playful and do best when they are part of an active family.

If your family prefers to stay inside and play, you may want to consider a French bulldog or pug. They are great companion dogs and love to play but require less exercise.

Grooming: Different breeds have different grooming needs. Breeds with a long heavy coat, such as the Shetland sheepdog, need regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles. Double-coated breeds such as the Akita require weekly brushing.

Breeds with smooth coats or short-hairs such as the greyhound and boxer require regular grooming.