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A pet is an animal that is kept (mostly by humans) for companionship and enjoyment, as opposed to livestock, which are kept for economic reasons. The most popular are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics or their attractive appearance or song.
The term "pet" may also be applied to humans, usually in an endearing way by a lover, significant other, or partner. Calling another person a pet, though, can just as easily be considered an insult (see "plaything").
While in theory one could keep any animal as a pet, in practice a small number of species of mammals, especially dogs and cats, and other animals such as birds have dominated the pet scene for a very long time. Fish have joined them more recently. Many of these are domesticated while others, often considered novelty pets, are not. With the exception of tortoises, iguanas and non-venomous snakes, few reptiles and amphibians make good pets.
Pets can provide their owners with many health benefits. The keeping of pets has been shown to help remove stress. Walking a dog can also provide its owner (as well as the dog!) with exercise, fresh air, and the opportunity for social interaction.
Sometimes people treat their pets like they are children, especially when the people do not have children or their children are grown up.
Some animal welfare organisations have proposed that the term "companion animal" be used instead of "pet".
The Shih Tzu, or "lion" dog, probably originated from matings between Tibetan Lhasa Apso dogs brought to China during the 17th century and native Pekingese dogs. The Shih Tzu became a favorite of the Imperial Chinese court. The breed was so revered that for many years after the Chinese began trading with the West, they refused to sell, or even give away, any of the little dogs. It was not until 1930 that the first pair was imported to England.
The Shih Tzu is a breed of dog originating in China.
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