The Shih Tzu, a toy breed of dog with a long, thick coat, does well in apartments, as it does not need much exercise apart from a daily walk. It is important that training start early on, as the Shih Tzu is slow to learn, and training takes a lot of work. The luxuriant fur needs daily brushing to avoid tangles.
Shih Tzus come in a variety of colors including black, brown, liver, gold, red and white. They have large round eyes and tails that curl up. To minimize grooming, many owners cut their two-layered coat short in what is known as a puppy cut. It needs to be trimmed often to keep it at a manageable length. Despite the length of their coats, Shih Tzus do not lose hair easily. Though they are loyal and affectionate, if they are not disciplined, they have a tendency to growl and bite. Owners should watch for health problems common to the breed, including kidney and eye ailments. Because of the shape of their heads, they often have respiratory difficulties and tend to wheeze and snore sometimes.
The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest breeds of dog and is closely related to the wolf. It was bred as a lap dog in Tibet about 2,000 years ago. In the imperial court in China, it was known as the lion dog, and aristocrats used to place Shih Tzus at the foot of their beds and use them as foot warmers.