#10: Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is thought to be a native of Tibet, and bred extensively in China since the 17th century. The breed resembles the Tibetan Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, and Pekingese, all of which originated in the same part of the world. The name Shih Tzu means 'lion dog', but because of the hair around the face that grows in all directions, they are sometimes called the 'chrysanthemum-faced dog'. The Shih Tzu was much favored in court circles and was frequently represented in Chinese art. In 1930, a few Chinese specimens were introduced into England, and from there the breed became popular throughout the world.

The breed was officially recognized in the United States in 1969 and has several unique features. The heavily plumed tail curls over the back and is long as well as luxurious. The long hair grows from the top of the muzzle and falls from either side of the face, giving the Shih Tzu its characteristic expression. The Shih Tzu is a lively toy dog with a long flowing double coat. The height of the breed is usually 8 to 11 inches tall and it weighs from 9 to 16lbs. The breed is slightly longer than tall and is always compact, solid, and carries good weight and substance. The Shih Tzu has moderate shedding and needs daily combing, frequent eye cleaning, and weekly bathing.

They get along well with other pets, when properly socialized as a puppy. This breed can be hard to housebreak, since they have a stubborn streak about them. In general, hey are patient with children of all ages. The sole purpose of the breed is that of a companion and a house pet. The dog's ideal temperament is found to be outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting toward all. They are very gentle and intelligent, and carry themselves with a distinctively proud bearing. Some may display an arrogant personality, but they are normally playful and gentle. They wear the expression of a warm and friendly nature. Shih-Tzus have a very trusting nature and they love the companionship of humans. They are a good choice for a family with well-behaved children, as they love to play, as long as they are handled with care.

Shih Tzus can be at risk for a number of serious health conditions. The most common are eye ulcers, knee dislocation, kidney disorders, heart attacks, bleeding disorders, and a high susceptibility to colds.

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