Animal Tattoos and Their Meaning (With Pictures)
Why does one choose a tattoo design? A person may choose an animal tattoo to mark a turning point in their life, or to represent a part of their soul.
Some choose a tattoo of an individual animal friend. In today's society, animals are a big part of life. We spend millions on our pets, and many people remember their pets by wearing their image on their own bodies.
Some people need a particular animal species tattooed on their body because of a fascination with that animal, or a spiritual connection to that animal.
But, in any case, animal tattoos are popular. The more common animals include:
We'll see some examples and some of their meanings below.
Koi TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Koi, like goldfish, are a kind of carp; they are popular in China, Japan, and Korea. Koi tattoos show brightly colored fish—gold, red, blue, black, and white—surrounded by a Japanese-style wave, or water in some other form.
Koi fish are traditionally considered lucky, which is why they tend to be a very popular tattoo. Because their name sounds like a Japanese word for "love," they are considered signs of affection and friendship. It is said that if a koi is caught, it will lie on the cutting board without flinching, like a samurai warrior facing a sword.
Based on a legend that koi succeeded in climbing the waterfalls at Dragon Gate, on the Yellow River, and were transformed into dragons, the fish became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement, for example Chinese scholars passing their exams and getting government jobs. Koi can also represent courage, attaining goals, and overcoming life's difficulties.
Snake TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Snakes have many meanings, which is why they tend to make a popular tattoo.
An image of a snake eating its own tail in a clockwise direction (head to tail) symbolizes the life cycle or rebirth.
Many civilizations worship snakes. You can find cobras wrapped around the necks of Shiva and Vishnu. In India there are temples where people pray to snake deities. Snakes even have a special day devoted to them.
Frog TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Frogs are another popular animal tattoo.
They are the symbols of:
Many Christians, these days, are getting frogs tattooed on their body. They say "Frog" is an acronym for "Forever Rely On God."
Tiger TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tigers not only have beautiful fur, but look beautiful on human skin.
Tigers stand for:
Tigers in Chinese culture are seen as earth symbols, and rivals equal in power to dragons.
In modern literature, the tiger is usually menacing and fearsome. The wicked Shere Khan, in The Jungle Book, was Mowgli's mortal enemy.
But you will find some cute and cuddly tigers, such as Tigger from Winnie The Pooh, Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbes comic, and Tony the Tiger.
Horse TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Horses aren't as popular as other animal tattoos, but they are gorgeous nonetheless.
Horses are symbols of:
- Free spirit
Bird TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bird tattoos are popular and come in great variety.
You will commonly find sparrows, owls, crows, ravens, doves, and hummingbirds.
- Crows and ravens symbolize revival and messages from God.
- Doves symbolize Christianity, peace, hope, and new life.
- Eagles can represent might, spiritual growth, and patriotism.
- Hummingbirds can represent a love charm, or one who hoards.
- Owls can symbolize both wisdom and imbecility.
- Sparrows symbolize freedom, love, and loyalty.
Dog TattoosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Often, dog tattoos are a memorial for a beloved pet who has passed on.
Otherwise, a person may pick a breed to portray based on characteristics or a reputation that the person may want to have themselves.
For example, someone may get a tattoo of an APBT ("pit bull") as a sign of loyalty, strength, and courage, but another may get a tattoo of an aggressive-looking dog of the same breed to represent power and the fear that pit bulls evoke.