Foo Dogs in Feng Shui, also known as Fu Dogs, are not actually dogs, but lions. These sculptures depict mythical lions said to protect a place from evil spirits or energies.
Foo Dogs are a symbolic Feng Shui “cures” or enhancements that are placed on the sides of a front entrance to create a feeling of protection.
Symbols are part of Step 6 in the Nine Steps to Feng Shui® System, which is about controlling the language of the home – the feedback your home gives you.
They’re Not Called Lions in China
Foo Dogs are wide spread in ancient Chinese architecture. This is interesting, because lions are not indigenous to China.
Many in ancient China believed the lion to be a mythical creature, such as the dragon or the phoenix.
The first real lions seen in China were brought as gifts to emperors.
The use of statues of lions as symbols of protections for buildings and temples predates the arrival of actual lions to China. In the Chinese language, the statues are called simply lions, protection lions or guardian lions.
The names “Foo Dogs” or “Fu Dogs” are English names for these symbols.
Foo Dogs Come from Buddhism
Foo Dos or Guardian Lions were prevalent in Buddhist temples in China.
Buddhism is originally from India, were there are Asiatic lions, also known as Indian Lions or Persian Lions.
You can find statues of protective lions in ancient Indian architecture. Their style is similar to that of the Foo Dogs found in Chinese architecture. Indian statues emphasize the fierce face of the lion, rather than the mane. In the Chinese Guardian Lion or Foo Dog, the mane is downplayed even more.
Foo Dogs in Feng Shui – Description
The Foo Dogs or Guardian Lions are representations of mythical protection beings, rather than realistic renderings of lions. The fierceness is emphasized by exaggerating the eyes, claws and teeth.
Foo Dogs come in pairs. One is a male and one is a female. There is not a lot of difference between the male and the female. For example, they both have manes.
The male lion represents Yang (active power) and the female lion represents Yin (yielding power).
The male statue has a ball under its right paw. The ball is sometimes engraved with special symbols, including what we call the “flower of life” in the West.
The female statue has a lion cub under her left paw.
Sometimes the ball and the cub are under the wrong paw. Before you buy Foo Dogs make sure the ball and cub are where they belong.
How to Use Foo Dogs in Feng Shui – Location and Size
Foo Dogs in Feng Shui are usually located outside a building, either flanking the entry to a driveway, path or staircase, or on the sides of the front door of the building.
When looking at the building from across the street, the male lion goes on the right side and the female lion goes on the left side. An easy way to remember how to place the lions is to look at the cub under the female’s left paw. The cub is always placed so the cub is protected, near the center between the two statues.
The size of Foo Dogs or Guardian Lions needs to be proportional to the size of the entrance. Your statues should not be taller than the midpoint between the bottom and the top of your door. For a home they should be at least as tall as your knees.
Foo Dogs in Feng Shui – Figurines
It is common to find small figurines of Foo Dogs for use inside the home. You may place these figurines at both ends of your entry table, if your entry table is facing the front door. In a business, you can also place the figurines on both sides of your cash register, facing customers.
There are other uses of Foo Dog figurines. For example, you can use Foo Dogs to heal the Inner Child. To learn about these, read the extended version of this article in the Room by Room membership site. You need to be logged in with your email and password to read the article. If you haven’t joined yet, you may join here.
Speculations as to Why They Became Known as Foo Dogs in English
One theory of why the Guardian Lions became known as Foo Dogs is that they might have been confused with a large canine originally from Tibet.
The Asiatic lion has a smaller mane than the better known African lion. From a distance, an Asiatic lion might be confused with a Tibetan Mastiff, a large dog with a mane around its head. There are stories of people trying to pass Tibetan Mastiffs as lions in China, even in modern times.
More likely, it was some Westerner not being able to “see” the lion and deciding it must be a dog!
A Modern Alternative to Foo Dogs or Guardian Lions
Not everyone wants to have Foo Dogs outside their home. The style of the Foo Dogs in feng Shui may clash with the style of your home or you simply don’t like them, or can’t get them in a good size to go next to your door.
Yet, every home needs “guards” or protectors on the side of the home.
In modern times, we use large planters to symbolize the protection of the front door. We place one large planter on each side of the front door.
The planter itself can contain the color red or the plants in the pot can have red flowers. We use the color red as a symbol of the love and protection from Heaven, which is associated with fire. This is the reason you find the color red so often in Feng Shui cures.
If you can’t have red planters or red flowers, there is a symbolic cure to still call for the protection of Heaven. Read the extended version of this article in the Room by Room members-only site. In the extended article, I also answer the question of what to do when you don’t have room for a planter on one side of the front door. I also answer the question on what to do if there isn’t room on either side of the door. If you’re a member, go here. If you’re not a member here, you may join here.