Lion of Buddha
Here is another example of the "Fu Dog" or "Lion of Buddha" outside of the Lama Temple in Beijing. It is said that their name comes from the Chinese word for Buddhism, "fojiao". They are also known as "Fu Lions", a homonym of the Chinese word for prosperity or luck ("fu").
As I noted before, male and female pairs are the usual in China. Here is the male version, with his paw over a ball that represents power. It is also said to represent the union of Heaven and Earth, and the whole of Buddhist Law. Some believe that the open mouths of these lions represent the mantric sounds of "ah" and "um".
They are said to represent the unity of Heaven and Earth, and act as guardians. Lions are not indigenous to China, and these mythical versions are thought to have been introduced to Han China as the Buddhist protector of the dharma.
See the female version at the Forbidden City here
See a Japanese version here