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Published: Oct 24, 2012

Maybe your kids have been begging you for a puppy, or you've always wanted one and decided the family is finally old enough so you can all devote more time and energy to the new addition. Picking out a new family dog is an exciting and important decision, but it can be tricky to determine which breed would be a good fit for your family. Here are three aspects to consider before you bring Fido home.

All dogs were originally bred for a specific purpose, whether herding, retrieving, racing or to be companion animals. This is one factor that goes into their personality and demeanor. Another is the dog's size, since smaller breeds tend to be more defensive and have some dog aggression because they feel threatened. However, not all small dogs are aggressive and not all large dogs are mean. It is important to understand the breed's demeanor to understand how your dog will react to your particular family atmosphere. Some dogs are better at tolerating small children, others can be great with older kids. Pugs, golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and Beagles are all known for their friendly demeanor and tolerance.

Time and energy level
When considering which breed to get, another important aspect to consider is the dog's energy level and how that will fit into your family's lifestyle. For instance, an active family that enjoys hiking and other outdoor adventures may be better off with a large dog like a Bernese mountain dog or Lab, both of which need plenty of exercise, rather than a more laid-back breed like a Chihuahua or English bulldog.

At the same time, it is important that families are honest about how much time they will have to exercise their dog. Certain breeds have higher activity needs than others. Obesity in dogs is a serious condition that can stem from too little activity. Dogs can also become restless and may act out.

Grooming and pet health
You should also consider the breed's care needs and how they will mesh with your family's abilities. While dog grooming is important for all breeds, dogs can have short, medium or long fur and each requires different care. For example, a golden retriever will need regular brushing and maybe even some trips to the groomer for trims.

Purebred dogs may also be predisposed to certain genetic health problems. For example, English springer spaniels are predisposed to elbow dysplasia, while miniature poodles can have epilepsy. Whichever breed you choose, veterinarians can help you determine which care options are best for pet health