What in the world are these terrifying creatures you see throughout literature and architecture? They are called Foo Dogs. They’re actually lions but because they look like the breed of Chow Chow or Shih Tzu, they started to be referred to as dogs. Foo dogs generally symbolize prosperity, protection and success. They have become incredibly popular in Western culture and are a fabulous decorative element in any home.
Here are some fun facts:
- Originally Foo Dogs were displayed as an architectural element in the front of prominent homes, temples or places, always facing forward. They were meant to be imposing and add an element of fear. They could be quite large in scale with their mouths in mid-roar. Smaller forms that could be displayed decoratively in the home weren’t produced until the early 19th Century.
- Foo dogs are meant to be displayed as a pair. One is female and one is male.
- Each detail of the design is symbolic in meaning. You can tell the female because it is holding a puppy under her paw and the male is always resting its paw on a ball.
- According to Feng Shui design, it is imperative to display the pair with the female on the left and male on the right as you face them.