125 Best Dog Tattoo Ideas and Its Symbolic Meanings

When it comes to inking your skin with a tattoo, deciding on the best design is always a big deal. Although some timeless designs are considered as a cliché, making a selection is completely your decision. Dogs have been known for their loyalty and guardianship since ancient times and not only in present times. Before going into detail about incredible dog tattoo ideas and their symbolical representations, let’s have a look what the canines are prescribed as in the present and ancient world.

What Dogs Symbolize


From ancient times to the present era, the symbolic meaning behind dogs and their loyalty hasn’t changed a lot. Most historians believe that the meanings and symbolism of dogs are tied to ‘communication’.  They communicate physically, vocally and through their senses, which is their main symbolic representation.  Associated with metaphysical realms, canines are considered a liaison between physical and non-physical parameters. Ancient Roman, Celtic, and Egyptian kingdoms have demonstrated the dog as a sentinel of the Otherworld.

dog tattoos   

Dogs in the Ancient Times

Dated back to thousands of years, dogs were illustrated on the walls of caves. Over time, as more breeds evolved, the artistic representation of canines became more elaborated. In many cultures throughout the world, dogs were deemed as loyal companions, guardians, and hunters.

Dogs in Mesopotamia

The oldest story from ancient Mesopotamia reveals the role and signification of dogs in the region dated to 2150-1400 BCE. In the narrative, dogs are depicted as the companions of one of the most popular goddesses of Mesopotamia; Inanna goddess, who always traveled with seven hunting dogs in collar and leash.  Moreover, they are prominently featured in several older stories of Mesopotamia.

The famous historian, Wolfram Won Soden mentioned in his notes that dogs served as protection for dwellings and herds against enemies in ancient worlds. What is so strange is that the dogs were depicted in Mesopotamian art the same way they’re portrayed at present. They were illustrated as companions and hunters. The clay figurines discovered from Nineveh reveal that how this animal was imbued with its power to protect against danger. 

Dogs in Egypt

Whether it’s a connection with the gods or to human beings, dogs have always had deep ties in ancient cultures. Back then in Egypt, the dogs were associated with Anubis, the jackal god, who was believed to watch over the souls of the deceased. The dogs were buried with ceremony in the sanctuary of Anubis and Saqqara to help the deceased canines pass on to the afterlife easily.

During the 18th century, portraits of dogs became immensely popular and this led to the establishment of kennel club in UK and America. Later, these clubs introduced different contests competing for paintings and photographs of canines, which further encouraged the portraiture of dogs.

What Dog Tattoos Symbolize

The meanings for dog tattoos mostly revolve around love and affection for a companion, and that is pretty cool. Some people get themselves inked with a dog tattoo in a memory of a loyal friend whereas some mark it on their skin to remember after death; the animal is considered guardian to the afterworld.

In Celtic and Shamanic wisdom, the dog is linked with the powers of forests. A dog tattoo can convey the concept of a guide to lead your way through the dark forests of life. Moreover, a dog tattoo may consolidate a feeling of protection and guardianship as you go ahead in life’s journey. Overall, a dog tattoo symbolizes protection, guidance, loyalty, love, and fidelity. Let’s have a look at the best tattoo ideas and their meanings below.

1.     A Dog Illustrated with Moon

As a captivating and enlightening celestial body, the moon has a particular association within the physical world. A dog howling on a moon tattoo perhaps signifies the encouragement and support you often need to overcome the shadows in midst of your life. A tattoo depicting a dog paired with a crescent moon reflects new beginnings in life.

So, if you love sighting an enchanting and magical view of the moon and you also love dogs as your companion, illustrating both in your tattoo is a wonderful idea.

Placement Suggestions

If you opt for a design including a dog combined with a crescent moon, keep in mind that these kinds of tattoos are usually less elaborated and smaller in scale. Therefore, this kind of tattoo would look best on your arms, inner wrists or even on your neck. However, if you are going for a more detailed and large design, you can mark it on your back, chest or on your thighs.

Moreover, ensure to discuss the design with your artist first to avoid any flaws. Because the tattoo is inked permanently, you have to avoid risks that can compromise the tattoo’s design.

dog tattoos  

2.     A Dog Tattoo Paired with Sun

A dog tattoo illustrated with sun often reminds you of strength, courage, and vitality. As the solar object is associated with a bright self-expression and a dog symbolizes guardianship, a combined design of these two signifies an illuminated path to guide us through the dark times. Furthermore, it also reflects that a wearer has successfully survived the difficulties and troubles in the past.  A tattoo may also represent that you believe in enlightening the lives of others with your kind nature.

Placement Ideas

Often times depicted with sunrays, it’s a very unusual design among the tattoo enthusiasts. When it comes to the selection of the right spot for your solar dog tattoo, you can place it anywhere you want. However, just remember to discuss the requirements with your artist to avoid any risk.

3.     Foo dog Tattoo and its Symbolism

As mythical and intimidating creatures, foo dogs have been depicted in many forms of arts; from architectural designs to tattoo. When it’s about a tattoo, the design symbolizes guardianship along with success and prosperity. As Foo Dogs are popularly known as protective lions, its tattoo is illustrated in pairs representing the concept of yin and yang. If you are looking for a meaningful design that is somehow linked with historical times, a Foo dog tattoo is suitable for you.

In Buddhism, a Foo dog is considered a sacred creature that bestows calmness to anyone who wears it as a tattoo. If you mark a foo dog on your skin, the design will represent the concept of strength moderated by wisdom and gentleness.

Placement Ideas

Having plenty of details, a Foo dog design tattoo usually requires a big space to be marked. You must keep certain things in mind when deciding your tattoo placement; specifically the size and details. Foo dogs are generally illustrated in pairs; the design is very colorful, elaborated and detailed. In addition, you will have to invest a bit more in terms of price, time and pain. So, you should wear this design where it can be easily shown. For that, your neck or arm is the best choice; however, if you are thinking to get it on a small scale, you can ink it on your arms, thighs, and legs.

4.     Dog Paw Tattoos

If you want a smaller yet meaningful and incredible tattoo, a paw print tattoo is a perfect option for you. Though simple, a paw print tattoo looks wonderful and symbolizes various things. As dogs are friendly, loyal, and playful, you can wear this tattoo to exhibit that you also possess these qualities. You can personalize this tattoo according to your own choices; however, customizing it by adding your pet’s name is perhaps the best idea. You can also add your favorite quote around your paw print tattoo.

Placement suggestions

Paw prints usually are smaller, placing your tattoo on your neck, behind your ear, on your arms and even on a finger is a great idea to show off this minimalist yet captivating design. In case you don’t like it to be less detailed, you can pair it with other symbols including roses, moon, and with wings.


5.     Dog’s Paws Encased in a Heart

This kind of tattoo is a great option for couples who want to mark their love for each other. There is a plenty of ideas to customize this tattoo in terms of design, placement, and colors. Even if you want to add other details such as rose, which is another sign of love, a dog paw tattoo will look best. Moreover, as dogs are widely known for their faithfulness, such a design will personify your sincerity with your partner. 

Placement suggestions

Perhaps placing this design on a skin near your heart is the best option. However, if you don’t want to do that, you can place it on your arms and on your neck. Moreover, you can ask your partner for more creative and adorable ideas for its customization and placement.

6.     Dog’s Paw Enclosed with a Sign of Infinity

As we are moving forward in exploring the ideas for your tattoos, you will find designs that are more interesting. Coming to another paws print, the design that features a sign of infinity with a little heart enclosed in a loop with paws print is a mind-blowing design to represent your love strength for your partner or friend. 

Suggestions for Placement

If you are opting for this amazing design, just make sure to add minimal details. Usually, people place it on their inner wrists. However, you can wear it on your arms or behind your ear; wherever you place this tattoo, it will look fabulous.

dog tattoos  

What your Dog Tattoo Color Represents

You might be wondering if it really matters; however, every color has different significance and meanings. Having a white painted dog tattoo reflects virtue, clarity, and purification of your soul. The red dogs represent victory and virility. When it comes to black dogs, these designs signify the association of sacred dogs, specifically baying dogs of Hecate, who was the goddess of sorcery and realms of the dead.  Moreover, black dogs also symbolize that a wearer is brave enough to walk into dark places of life.

Tattoo Aftercare Tips

Now that you have inked under a needle, you really need to take proper care of your tattoo to avoid any infection or severity in your wound. You heard right, a newly marked tattoo is an opened wound and if it’s your first time, you might stress out with a pain. Well, you don’t need to be panic because as long as you follow these caring tips, your tattoo will look and feel wonderful.


Once you removed the first bandage you got, don’t cover your tattoo again. Your wound has to scab over and heal; dressing it will create moisture and slow down the healing process.


Some people are usually mistaken that cleaning a tattoo with a hot water helps to have your wound heal quickly. As it’s an open wound, you need to be gentle; always wash it with lukewarm water.


It is important to get the right ointment for your tattoo. Always ensure to ask your tattoo expert to recommend ointment considering your skin type and allergic reactions (if you have any). Once you get an ointment, apply a thin coat and don’t drown your tattoo in it.


Use a non-scented lotion because chemicals in fragrances could have a reaction on your skin resulting in burning sensation.  Perhaps you will feel itchy but never scratch your tattoo and do not peel your scab.

In Conclusion

Now that you have plenty of ideas for your dog design tats, you can choose the design that suits you the best. Also, whenever you’re going for a tattoo, ensure to discuss the ideas with your tattoo artist. By doing so, you will get a unique depiction blended with amazing style.