Tattoo Ideas: Pet Memorials

Updated on March 18, 2020
becauseilive profile image

I have thirteen tattoos as well as several piercings, and I think they're all pretty cool.

Our pug Max, admittedly larger than most pugs, was never without a colorful fuzzy.
Our pug Max, admittedly larger than most pugs, was never without a colorful fuzzy.
Max was full of character, often looking like Jabba the Hutt when he was sitting up.
Max was full of character, often looking like Jabba the Hutt when he was sitting up.

More Than Just a Pet

My family was devastated when we lost our black lab in 1998. Jake was our first family pet, so when he was diagnosed with cancer at age 11, we couldn't help but think that his time with us had been much too short. It wasn't long before he could no longer walk up the stairs to sleep at the foot of my parents' bed. In Jake's final days, my dad would often sleep next to him on the living room floor, holding him when he would wake from tremors in the middle of the night. It wasn't long after that we took him to the vet and had him put to sleep.

When Jake died, our other dog (a character of a pug named Max) was still young and spry. But of course, inevitably, after living a long, happy 15 years, Max's time came, too. Just a few days after his 15th birthday, the vet was kind enough to make a housecall and put Max to sleep in the comfort of our own home.

It's amazing how animals come so easily into our lives and seamlessly become members of our family. Their devotion never wavers, their love is unconditional, and they're always happy to see you. Is it any surprise that many people refer to their pets as their children? When Jake died, we made my father a framed photo collage documenting the 11 years he spent with us. My dad (a construction worker who never really shows emotion) cried when he saw it. The collage hangs prominently in my parents' living room. We also have a plaque celebrating Max's life which sits nearby.

There are many ways to memorialize the loss of a beloved pet. I had a friend who got her precious dachshund stuffed by a taxidermist after he was tragically hit by a car. He lived on her dresser. Some people prefer to get a tattoo honoring their deceased cat or dog, the same way you would get a tattoo of a cross or someone's name along with date of birth and date of death. You can find a ton of different and creative ways to ink a pet memorial tattoo.

A portrait of your pet is a lovely memorial.
A portrait of your pet is a lovely memorial.

Pet Portrait Tattoos

Portrait tattoos, of both the living and the deceased, are a popular tattoo choice. Rather than flipping through images in your mind or only having a tattooed name and dates to look at, some people choose to get their pet's actual likeness inked onto them. The key to doing this successfully is finding a photograph of clear quality that accurately represents your pet, and then finding a tattoo artist who has experience with this type of art. If you doubt your artist's ability to translate the photo into a realistic image, another option is to get a caricature, or even a cartoon sketch, of your beloved pet.

Pet Portrait Tattoo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This dog print has a small heart incorporated inside the design.
This dog print has a small heart incorporated inside the design.

Paw Print Tattoos

The standard, thick outlined image of a cat or dog paw print is a common choice for tattoos, whether they're pet memorials or not (think Eve's paw print tattoos on her chest). This can be very cute when incorporating a small heart or your pet's name, but I think an even cuter idea would be to get their actual paw print.

You can take the stamp of a paw print the same way you would take a human's fingerprints, either before your animal ever even gets sick or passes away. If you feel up to it, you can get the stamp just after your pet passes.

Paw Print Tattoo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Quote Ideas for Pet Tattoos

  • "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." --Josh Billings
  • "Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole." --Roger Caras
  • "Even the tiniest poodle is lionhearted." --Louis Sabin
  • "There is only one smartest dog in the world, and every boy has it." --Anonymous
  • "A good dog never dies, he always stays, he walks besides you on crisp autumn days when frost is on the fields and winter's drawing near, his head within our hand in his old way." --Anonymous

The Best Pet Memorial Tattoo

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."


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    • profile image


      16 months ago

      This is an aweaome example! I lobe the wording. It couldn't be more true! I lost my baby Homer (yes.. Homer.. I adopted him from an ederly couple that claimed he was too rambuctious and we kept the name) the week of Christmas. We still havent taken down his stocking and sleep every night with his harness and favorite toy. We decided to bury him at the most meaningful place we could think. My grandparents. He loved seeing his nana amd chasing chickens back into the neighbors yard. Even though he was only a 8-9 lb pomeranian he felt like most powerful pup on earth. He laid with me when i sick, licked my tears when i was sad, and sat by the front door for hours until i got home only to greet me with tons of kisses! I went through a rough period in my life and couldnt have him with me so he lived with his nana for a couple years. I visited him amd everytime he saw me it was like i never left. My girlfriend and i recently bought a house and when he came back to me he was still just as loyal as the first day i held him and kossed him amd played with him by the horses on the farm behind the house. Fortunatley our new house is only 1 mile from my grandparents so everyday i walk outside to see the cell tower lights that shine behind his resting place and talk to him, cry to him, and remind him of the strength he gave me while here on earth. He died suddenly of heart failure in my arms. He woke us up to say mommys something is wrong I love you.. As we scrambled to get his belongings and our jackets together at 4 a.m. that morning he took his last breath. I still cry and and wish he was here and hes been gone 3 months now. Point of my story is dogs become your best friends. They are loyal. They will be true to you as most people you meet wont be. The day he passed i lost something inside me and i want to have something special done to remember him by. This example is exactly how i feel about him. We have some peace knowing he is across the street being watched over by all who loved him. My grandfather isnt a huge dog guy but took the time to handcraft a doggie coffin made from weather resistant wood and place him in it with his blanky and another favorite toy. We placed one of his christmas babies in it as well. And now we are engraving him a headstone to place on top just as if he were human because in our eyes he was! We miss you baby Homer!!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I thought about this tattoo when my dog dead. He was German Shepard. I done tatoo with his face. You can check out that tattoo at my master


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      4 years ago

      My dog is still young and well however I wanted a tattoo to always have with me. I have his paw print blown up a little bit with a portrait of his face in it. It looks 100% just like him. I am so happy with it and get comments all the time. I wish I could add the picture...

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      5 years ago

      I lost my dog to coyotes. She was only 7 years old. I am devestated. She was my world. The good die young. I will see you again Shaynee

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      5 years ago

      Although its nice you chose one of my tattoos for this article, a little credit is due.

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      6 years ago

      We just put our Lady down today... I plan to have "tu me manques" which is French for I miss you but is literally translated as you are missing from me.

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      7 years ago

      I lost my belove Cinder to cancer and my tattoo is in the works she was my child before real ones . she was unique I want the tattoo to be the same.

    • profile image

      Sierra Danger 

      7 years ago

      I like the pawprint idea...but I want something more. I just recently lost my dog to cancer and I haven't been able to ease my mind. I know I want a tattoo for her, I know I want to incorporate her in some way...paw print or maybe a representation, but I want more. I don't know what...but I want something more and something a little different. More unique. Anyone heard of any more/other ideas? I was hoping that maybe learning of some others' more unique ideas would inspire me.

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      7 years ago

      Kelly- I had my dogs actually paw print done on my calf-about 8 years ago-he passed away yesterday. I am so thankful its there. You won't regret it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I was feeling strange about wanting to grt my dog's paw print done in his honor since I don't know anyone that's done it but after reading this I feel better. The only way to pay my fur-kid a proper tribute is to have his big ol' paw with me forever. any good location ideas for where?

    • profile image

      Kelsie E 

      8 years ago

      This is such a good article. I just lost two dogs in the last 2 months and it has been very hard. This article has some very good ideas to always keep them with you

    • profile image

      Clark Mint 

      8 years ago

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm just curious. I think pet tattoos are an awesome idea. But are there owners that ever regret getting them?

    • angie ashbourne profile image

      angie ashbourne 

      8 years ago

      Hi! Awesome Hub.You have some really good ideas. Angie

    • diogenes profile image


      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      This a lovely article. Mainly because it showcases what caring people you are. Pets - especially dogs - give us so much and cause so much grief when they die - far too soon.

      I don't know about a tattoo for me. I missed my Mini-Schnauzer who I lost through separation with my ex wife, so much, I don't think I could have beared to be reminded all the time with a tat.

      But it's a lovely idea for some.

      Put your avatar the right way up! We want to look at lovely ladies.


    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for this. Wonderful and touching. We have a beloved dog who won't be with us much longer and I love the idea of a tattoo of his paw print to commemorate him. The quotes were lovely as well. Voted up!


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