Jade carvings of hound-like dogs in a resting pose can be found from as early as the Tang dynasty, such as the carved figure from the Hei-Chi Collection included in the exhibition Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 68. The present piece belongs to a group of distinctive jade animals delicately carved in naturalistic poses, popular from the Song dynasty to the early Qing dynasty. They were used as paperweights, but it is likely that such high-quality, sensitively rendered sculptures were kept as 'playthings' for scholars or wealthy patrons.
A crouching jade dog from the collection of Sir Joseph Hotung, attributed to the Song dynasty, is illustrated in Ip Yee, Chinese Jade Carving, Urban Council of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, no. 134, and again in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pl. 26:10, where the author notes that 'hounds in jade may have been worn by those who wished to be known for their prowess in hunting' (p. 367). Compare also a white jade carving of a dog from the Zhirouzhai Collection, attributed to the Song dynasty, included in the exhibition Exquisite Jade Carving, Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 85, and sold in these rooms, 8th October 2008, lot 2312; one other from the Song dynasty, offered in this sale, lot 3322; and a Ming russet jade dog from the Muwen Tang Collection, recently sold in these rooms, 1st December 2016, lot 40.