18th century dog kennel. Though this kennel is from Imperial Qianlong court, with the love of chinoiserie and with Chinese imports flooding the Continental market, it would not be unreasonable to think a wealthy family might have something similar for their favorite dog.
Pekingese were held sacred in ancient China and could only be owned by royalty. At that time, the punishment for stealing a Pekingese was death. Pekingese came to Europe as a result of war. When the British overtook the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860, they returned home with several of the dogs.
The origins of the Pekingese dog began with the breeding in the Chinese imperial court, perhaps as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) period. The Chinese emperor wanted to replicate the Buddha's experience of taming a wild lion, symbolizing passion and aggression. Buddha's tame lion would "follow at his heels like a faithful dog," according to legend. In a somewhat circular story, then, the Han emperors bred a dog to make it look like a lion - a lion that acted like a faithful dog.