Wolf Tattoo

Wolf Tattoos: Meanings, Tattoo Styles & Placement

Take a walk on the wild side!

Wolf Tattoos

Wolf tattoos are one of the most popular tattoo designs and can be drawn in any tattoo style.

People really seem to have a fascination with wolves.

There have been countless legends and folklore written about wolves.

Humans love wolves so much, they domesticated them and brought them into their homes.

Every breed of dog, the world’s most popular pet, is a descendant of the grey wolf.

But how did we get so fascinated with wolves and what does a wolf tattoo mean?

Wolf Tattoo Meanings

Style and trends will come and go: tattoos are no exception.

But one consistent theme seems to be the wolf tattoo.

The wolf may represent independence in life and moving on from the dependence of others.

Alternatively, the wolf may mean leadership and strength in one’s decisions.

Not only that, but the wolf tattoo can symbolize that life only lasts so long and that the end is inevitable.

One last example: the wolf tattoo signifies protection.

The wolf means different things for many people and translates into several personality traits.

The type of wolf and its style can have a variety of meanings.

Here, we will take a closer look at what wolf tattoos mean:

  • Independence
  • Leadership
  • Impermanency
  • Protection

A wolf symbolizes independence because the wolf sometimes goes off on its own and makes its own decisions away from the pack.

We will discuss the ‘lone wolf tattoo’ later on.

The wolf also symbolizes independence because it is a hunter who hunts as it sees fit and relinquished control alone in the wild.

The wolf tattoo also represents leadership because of the wolves who lead the pack.

They make all the decisions about where to head next, and who is the fiercest; so if you want to get a wolf tattoo symbolizing strength and leadership get one representing the head of the pack.

The battle with mortality is another common meaning of a wolf tattoo.

Life goes, then it ends; the wolf tattoo symbolizes the battle to stay alive and fight another day.

It can even go as far as representing the afterlife, especially as we’ll see with the skull and wolf tattoo. 

Although some stories tell the opposite scenario, the wolf tattoo can often symbolize protection.

The wolf is fierce and courageous— a powerful protector.

The wolf tattoo can be an amulet of sorts, on your arm back, or wherever you choose to have it, to watch over you and bring you strength on your journey.

Wolf Tattoo Designs

There are plenty of powerful animal themes that stand out as options for wolf and wolf imagery.

Any of these popular main themes will let you seize on the idea and traditions of the wolf and put your own unique spin on them!

Growling Wolf Tattoos

A growling wolf is a wolf that’s engaged and ready to defend anyone as soon as they need to.

The true growling wolf tattoo is the perfect defense against threats and a reminder that wolves will do anything to protect themselves and their loved ones, honorable and strong protection against bad that is significant for many.

Growling Wolf Tattoo
Growling Wolf Tattoo
Growling Wolf Tattoo
Growling Wolf Tattoo
Growling Wolf Tattoo

Lone Wolf Tattoos

For those who feel isolated or that they work best on their own, a lone wolf tattoo might help them connect better to the idea that it’s okay to be on their own.

Lone wolves are often powerful beasts that feel connected and sheltered by the idea of solitude, so a lone wolf tattoo would be perfect for introverts or others who feel they do best on their own.

Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo
Lone Wolf Tattoo

The lone wolf is an extremely popular tattoo; this may have something to do with its various visceral meanings.

The lone wolf is mainly associated with acting alone and independently.

This comes from how lone wolves in nature traveling without a pack.

Lone wolves are forced to be faster and stronger to adapt to a life of fending from themselves; all this despite their nature.

This makes them much more capable on their own than even a whole pack of wolves.

As a result, the lone wolf tattoo meaning can be attributed to survival, success, and skillfulness.

So if you consider yourself someone with one or more of these traits, a lone wolf could be the tattoo for you.

Norse Wolf Tattoos

For people with Norse ancestry, it may be a cool way to pay homage to one of the many epic legends in this tradition.

A Norse wolf connects people to the heritage of the original legend of the wolf, Fenrir.

His eternal strength, power, and terrifying legacy are a reminder that nothing is guaranteed, and could be a powerful connection for people to their personal gratitude for life as well as a connection to Norse heritage and mythology.

Norse Wolf Tattoo
Norse Wolf Tattoo
Norse Wolf Tattoo
Norse Wolf Tattoo

Howling Wolf Tattoos

A wolf’s howl can represent everything from a cry of love to a call for others, and a howling wolf memorialized on your skin is the perfect way to remember a wolf’s desire for connection.

Whether you too are feeling lonely or simply want to remember a time when you were, a howling wolf tattoo helps you recall you need to connect to others and that it’s okay to feel lonely at times.

Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo
Howling Wolf Tattoo

The howling wolf also has a couple of different interpretations and is a prime example of the wolf tattoo’s meaning being affected by how the wolf acts in nature.

Firstly, the alpha wolf usually howls to communicate with the pack.

The howling wolf tattoo meanings can translate to strength and leadership.

The howling wolf in tattoos is also indicative of a deep connection to the wild and nature.

Wolf Skull Tattoos

A skull tattoo is a strong and powerful symbol of the quiet beauty and grace that remains, even in demise.

A wolf skull is especially symbolic because they often are found on their own, a final symbol of the lone wolf in life and in passing on.

A wolf skull tattoo might symbolize your desire to connect to solitude even after the final end as well as appreciating the solitude that it brings.

Wolf Skull Tattoo
Wolf Skull Tattoo
Wolf Skull Tattoo
Wolf Skull Tattoo
Wolf Skull Tattoo
Wolf Skull Tattoo

The wolf skull tattoo provides a combination of two popular interpretations.

1) The skull tattoo represents immortality/end – its inevitability.

2) As we know, the wolf can be depicted in many ways including guidance and wisdom.

Put the two together and you get a tattoo representing a deep understanding of the final exit.

It signifies coming to peace with the fact that life is temporary.

It can also represent the afterlife.

Wolf Skeleton Tattoos

These unique contemporary tattoos add a spooky, raw element to the idea of the howling wolf.

For a pared-back, stripped-down approach to the wolf that captures them at their most raw and basic, a wolf skeleton tattoo reminds you that under the surface we’re all just people looking for connection and warmth.

Wolf Skeleton Tattoo
Wolf Skeleton Tattoo
Wolf Skeleton Tattoo

Japanese Wolf Tattoos

For the meaning of the Japanese wolf tattoo, we have to look back to old Japanese stories and myths.

The wolf is consistently part of fables where they have to protect humans.

In many of these fables, they guard over children.

This has to be what leads to the Japanese wolf tattoo’s association with healthy childbirth.

A wolf in a Japanese tattoo style can bring you luck and or symbolize someone watching over your children as the wolf did in many stories.

Japanese Wolf Tattoo
Japanese Wolf Tattoo

Wolf Tattoo Styles

Wolves have different symbolism depending on the story, so it’s up to you to decide what your wolf tattoo means.

Whether you decide to get a portrait tattoo, new or old school tattoo design, there are so many stunning ways to capture a wolf.

Not do the wolf’s actions in the wild determine different wolf tattoo meanings, but the style of the piece can have an influence too.

The style can be dictated or influenced by the artist, traditions; and of course, the person getting the tattoo.

Many cultural influences are present in different wolf tattoo styles.

For example, Japanese-style tattoos are usually centered on spirituality, as that’s a reflection of the culture.

We’ll take a look at some of the different wolf tattoo styles out there and what they mean:

Black and Grey Wolf Tattoos

Black and grey tattoo designs are smart and serious ways to demonstrate the wildness and intelligence of the wolf while still conveying their sheer strength and ability.

A black and grey wolf tattoo represents the complete power of a wolf in sharp contrast using negative ink and design styles.

Black and Grey Wolf Tattoo
Black and Grey Wolf Tattoo
Black and Grey Wolf Tattoo
Black and Grey Wolf Tattoo
Black and Grey Wolf Tattoo

American Traditional Wolf Tattoos

The wolf has been a massive staple in American traditional tattoo culture.

American traditional tattoos are characterized by their strength, power, and intensity.

Neat, bold lines, bright primary coloring, and intense imagery, and sketching all help convey the fierce power and strength of the subject of the tattoo.

The American traditional tattoo is the perfect combination of fierce strength and design, and an American traditional wolf tattoo brings out all the best strength and wildness of the wolf in a traditional and powerful way.

This tattoo represents positive and negative connotations for many cultures.

Officially, the traditional wolf tattoo describes the bearer and his beliefs but can mean different things to different ethnicities.

American Traditional Wolf Tattoo
American Traditional Wolf Tattoo
American Traditional Wolf Tattoo

Abstract Wolf Tattoos

Abstract wolf tattoos bring the color and creativity of a wolf tattoo to life.

Abstract tattoos allow you to explore all the different elements of art, creativity, and meaning in your life.

You can bring in many different elements of significant colors, styles, and designs, as well as incorporating the strong and sure profile of the wolf.

An abstract wolf tattoo represents creativity, passion, and power all tied into the symbolism of the wolf.

Abstract Wolf Tattoo
Abstract Wolf Tattoo
Abstract Wolf Tattoo
Abstract Wolf Tattoo
Abstract Wolf Tattoo

Black-work Wolf Tattoos

Black-work tattoos are symbols of power, strength, and fierce intensity.

The single-color tattoo ink can be used in many different ways to create shading, depth, and power in their designs, as well as an eerie intensity that’s only conjured by the color black.

A lone wolf tattoo in black-work style symbolizes an intensity and drive only found in the wild, making these the perfect symbol of strength and drive.

Black-work Wolf Tattoo
Black-work Wolf Tattoo
Black-work Wolf Tattoo
Black-work Wolf Tattoo
Black-work Wolf Tattoo

Graphic Wolf Tattoos

A graphic tattoo is designed to bring an element of modern architecture to the design of your wolf tattoo.

With elements of mathematical precision and care framed into the layout of your tattoo, you’ll find yourself loving the precision and power featured in the wolf’s call.

A graphic wolf tattoo is the perfect depiction of strength and quiet power in an ordered and carefully structured way.

Graphic Wolf Tattoo
Graphic Wolf Tattoo
Graphic Wolf Tattoo
Graphic Wolf Tattoo
Graphic Wolf Tattoo
Graphic Wolf Tattoo

One Line Wolf Tattoos

One-line tattoos are delicate, graceful, and carefully designed: built to bring out a simple and modern tattoo look that blends simplistic grace and minimalist designs.

A one-line wolf tattoo might symbolize the strength and grace of the howling wolf as well as connecting multiple wolves together in a single line to symbolize the strength and connection of the pack.

One Line Wolf Tattoo
One Line Wolf Tattoo
One Line Wolf Tattoo

Illustrative Wolf Tattoos

An illustrative wolf tattoo is a powerful example of a colorful, vibrant, and strong design.

The fierce colorful and artistic prowess of these illustrative tattoos and designs are a great way to establish the intense power and wildness of a snarling wolf, with colorful design and powerful lines and outlines.

Illustrative Wolf Tattoo
Illustrative Wolf Tattoo
Illustrative Wolf Tattoo
Illustrative Wolf Tattoo
Illustrative Wolf Tattoo

Tribal Wolf Tattoos

A wolf is a religious and cultural symbol of great importance to many people.

A symbol of strength, power, and wisdom, wolves are considered protectors of a community, a religious medium between a people and their gods, and a sign of strength and wisdom between themselves and each other.

A tribal wolf tattoo is a symbol of pride in your culture and internal strength and confidence in yourself.

The tribal wolf was a traditional piece of body art for Native American warriors.

The origin of the tribal tattoo leads to its association with a warrior’s spirit and special powers.

Legend says it can help you harness the spiritual energy of the mighty wolf.

Tribal Wolf Tattoo
Tribal Wolf Tattoo
Tribal Wolf Tattoo
Tribal Wolf Tattoo

Celtic Wolf Tattoos

Another intricate style of tattoo is the Celtic wolf tattoo due to the elaborate Celtic knot tattoo, a tradition possibly dating back to 1200 B.C.

Celtic traditions state that wolves are fierce protectors of the Celtic community and a connection to their spiritual guides and ancestors.

The intricate knotting of Celtic tattoos is a symbol of longevity, protection, and internal strength.

A Celtic wolf tattoo might symbolize a religious and powerful connection to the Celtic heritage as well as a long-lasting protector and guardian of the pack.

The wolf tattoo for Celtic culture is particularly seen through the peoples’ connections to their beloved ancestors.

This, therefore, means it can also be attributed to longevity and protection for your family.

Celtic Wolf Tattoo
Celtic Wolf Tattoo
Celtic Wolf Tattoo

Geometric Wolf Tattoos

A wolf is a powerful symbol of symmetry, power, and animalistic grace.

The loping body and mane of a wolf are powerful natural symbols of strength and drive, and nothing symbolizes the powerful ergonomic power and strength of the wolf than a geometric style tattoo.

The careful drawing and precision of the geometric wolf tattoo match the careful precision of the wolf and of the geometric tattoo design itself.

This artistic style of geometric tattoos also has a range of meanings.

The most consistent meanings of a geometric wolf tattoo being loyalty and spirit.

The geometric wolf tattoo is an extremely popular tattoo.

This could very well be due to its intricate design and elaborate process.

It’s sure worth it.

Geometric Wolf Tattoo
Geometric Wolf Tattoo
Geometric Wolf Tattoo
Geometric Wolf Tattoo

Realistic Wolf Tattoos

Realistic wolves are incredible feats of artistic mastery.

The careful design of a realistic tattoo, the strength and muscular design of wolves, and the powerful coloring of these tattoos create a rippling and incredibly fierce tattoo design that’s both genuine and intense.

A realistic wolf tattoo might symbolize your connection to authenticity and genuine connection, as well as to the power and authenticity of the wolf.

Realistic Wolf Tattoo
Realistic Wolf Tattoo
Realistic Wolf Tattoo
Realistic Wolf Tattoo
Realistic Wolf Tattoo

Dot-work Wolf Tattoos

Dot-work tattoos use intimately detailed shading and design styles to bring out the power and wildness of their portrait subject.

Dot-work tattoos can be an incredible homage to art and precision, and especially when the wolf is the subject of them, to power and intensity.

Dot-work tattoos are certainly intense to plan out and tattoo and a dot work wolf tattoo creates the image of power, strength, and precise design that sits prominently and comfortably on the arm.

Dot-work Wolf Tattoo
Dot-work Wolf Tattoo
Dot-work Wolf Tattoo
Dot-work Wolf Tattoo

Neo-traditional Wolf Tattoos

A Neo-traditional wolf tattoo is a modern design that improves on the historic and powerful traditions of traditional tattooing.

A Neo-traditional tattoo combines powerful primary coloring, modern design trends, and bold designs and outlines that set out a clear and powerful image.

The Neo-traditional wolf tattoos emphasize the power and strength of the profile of the wolf, bringing out their fierce snarl and proud stance in colorful and bright ways that signify the undeniable strength and imagery of the wolf.

Neo-traditional Wolf Tattoo
Neo-traditional Wolf Tattoo
Neo-traditional Wolf Tattoo
Neo-traditional Wolf Tattoo

Sketchy Wolf Tattoos

The wolf is a powerful living being, constantly in motion and moving with the pack or on its own.

A sketchy wolf tattoo is a great way to demonstrate the constant motion and energy of the wolf as well as the undulating and fluid nature of life.

A sketchy wolf tattoo brings out the best living energy of the wolf, showing them as fully vibrant and living creatures that are constantly working and in motion.

See sketch tattoos for more!

Sketchy Wolf Tattoo
Sketchy Wolf Tattoo
Sketchy Wolf Tattoo
Sketchy Wolf Tattoo
Sketchy Wolf Tattoo

Trash Polka Wolf Tattoos

Trash polka tattoos are a unique, painterly, and dynamic tattoo style that originated in Germany as a vibrant and creative tattoo that blends contemporary art and dynamic motion and line art.

The wolf itself is often a dynamic being, one that blends in unique and powerful energy and life force with its protective nature.

The combination of a trash polka wolf tattoo style builds on the vibrant and dynamic life force of the wolf with the creative and powerful tattoo style.

Trash Polka Wolf Tattoo
Trash Polka Wolf Tattoo
Trash Polka Wolf Tattoo

Watercolor Wolf Tattoos

Wolves are considered to be fierce and natural predators that blend into the woods and rocks around them.

Watercolor tattoo designs help you create a gentle and colorful image of wolves that can bring out colors that you might not traditionally see in a wolf, such as beautiful pastels or elegant imagery and lining.

The watercolor wolf tattoo in particular will help create a powerful imagery of a wolf that’s unusual and unique, making this perfect for an unusual and unique wolf.

Watercolor Wolf Tattoo
Watercolor Wolf Tattoo
Watercolor Wolf Tattoo
Watercolor Wolf Tattoo

Single Needle Wolf Tattoos

A single needle tattoo is one that provides delicate and unique imagery that’s much more gentle and shaded than other animals.

A single needle wolf tattoo brings out the most delicate and gentle elements of wolves that might traditionally get hidden in the sharper and fiercer depictions of the wolves.

With a single needle, you can add much more detail and precision into your tattoo, creating a gentle and delicate wolf that speaks to your true character.

Single Needle Wolf Tattoo
Single Needle Wolf Tattoo

New School Wolf Tattoos

A New School tattoo takes contemporary and modern, out-of-the-box tattoo elements and helps create a more exciting and contemporary design style.

The New School wolf tattoo brings a level of unique design to your wolf, upgrading it to a modern design style while still preserving the original life and vigor of the wolf.

New School Wolf Tattoo

Contemporary Wolf Tattoos

A contemporary wolf tattoo will bring color, geometric design, and modern design patterns to your wolf.

If you love the story and symbolism of the wolf but want to add your own personal twist to the contemporary wolf, you can design your own contemporary tattoo that can help bring your own style and innovation to the strength of the wolf.

Contemporary Wolf Tattoo
Contemporary Wolf Tattoo
Contemporary Wolf Tattoo

Wolf Tattoo Ideas

Have you decided on the perfect wolf tattoo style?

It’s time to decide where and how you’re going to put your tattoo.

There are plenty of options in terms of style and pattern that can help you pick out the perfect wolf tattoo for your next ink addition!

Small Wolf Tattoos

For someone who wants to feel protected and sheltered in their daily life, having a small wolf tattoo with you is the perfect way to carry your own talisman of protection with you at all times.

A small wolf tattoo can tuck anywhere on your body for a small and dainty reminder of the protection of the pack.

Small Wolf Tattoo
Small Wolf Tattoo
Small Wolf Tattoo
Small Wolf Tattoo

Wolf Sleeve Tattoos

A tattoo sleeve is usually reserved for the most dedicated and committed of tattoo fans.

A sleeve is an intense commitment that requires careful maintenance and upkeep in order to keep the sleeve in good condition.

A wolf sleeve combines the intensity of commitment to the tattoo and the signature intensity of the wolf to create a powerful and stunning tattoo that captivates the attention of everyone who sees it.

Wolf Sleeve Tattoo
Wolf Sleeve Tattoo
Wolf Sleeve Tattoo

Wolf Tattoos For Women

If you’re drawn to the idea of a mama wolf, the wolf tattoo for women is a great way to bring in the theme of fierce maternal protection and desire for your loved ones.

A mama wolf tattoo or a leading wolf is a great symbol of protection, guidance, and love that makes a great symbol for women to carry with them.

Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women
Wolf Tattoo For Women

Wolf Tattoos For Men

A male wolf has the responsibility of leader, protector, and guardian of the pack.

A male wolf is often one with responsibility, power, and strength, someone that requires both integrity and strength in order to lead.

A wolf tattoo for men can be a large sign of your personal character and determination to lead and protect in order to help guide and protect loved ones and lead a team.

Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men
Wolf Tattoo For Men

Bracelet Wolf Tattoos

A bracelet tattoo is a great way to protect and guide yourself at all times with a reminder that you are protected and sheltered from any hazard that might come your way.

A bracelet wolf tattoo is an encircling reminder of the power of a wolf and its strength, but can also be used in a landscape tattoo design to emphasize their loneliness and solitary nature.

Bracelet Wolf Tattoo

Horror Inspired Wolf Tattoos

A horror-inspired wolf tattoo takes the fierce and threatening nature of wolves to the next level with intense imagery and coloring as well as a fierce bite and growling teeth.

A horror tattoo is one that bites back at you with sharp intent and design that stuns the eye.

A horror wolf tattoo is a perfect way to add an element of grotesque shock and horror to your tattoo collection.

Horror Wolf Tattoo
Horror Wolf Tattoo
Horror Wolf Tattoo
Horror Wolf Tattoo
Horror Wolf Tattoo
Horror Wolf Tattoo

Simple Wolf Tattoos

A simple wolf tattoo pares down the call of the wolf to its most basic and simple form.

Whether a sleek silhouette or a carefully designed profile, your simple wolf tattoo conveys the most meaningful and basic elements of a wolf- their strong, smooth profile and their sleek and reliable snarl.

Simple Wolf Tattoo
Simple Wolf Tattoo
Simple Wolf Tattoo
Simple Wolf Tattoo

Large Wolf Tattoos

A large wolf tattoo is an impressive feat of resilience on behalf of both the tattoo artist and the recipient of the tattoo.

A large wolf tattoo can either signify a commitment to the intensity and wildness of a large wolf or a commitment to powerful and fierce, snarling wolves that protect you from anyone.

Large Wolf Tattoo
Large Wolf Tattoo
Large Wolf Tattoo

Ornamental Wolf Tattoos

Elegant ornamental wolf tattoos are often a cultural symbol for people who view wolves as spiritual guides and supporters.

Whether your wolf is a protective headdress or an intensely and fiercely detailed totem or statute, an ornamental wolf tattoo shows off your intricate homage to the spiritual and decorative nature of the wolf.

Ornamental Wolf Tattoo
Ornamental Wolf Tattoo
Ornamental Wolf Tattoo
Ornamental Wolf Tattoo

Wolf Tattoo Placement

Deciding where to place your wolf tattoo is very important to helping your tattoo stay in good condition and helping you hide or show off the significance of the nature of the wolf.

Whether arm, leg, or wrist, the placement of your wolf tattoo can say a lot about you and what you look for in life!

  • Wolf Forearm Tattoos

A wolf tattoo on the forearm is the ultimate symbol of intensity and strength.

A forearm tattoo is easily visible, especially in short sleeves, and is easily seen when you greet someone.

A forearm wolf tattoo is a great way to signal to someone that you’re an intense person who isn’t afraid of standing your ground, just like a wolf.

Forearm Wolf Tattoo
Forearm Wolf Tattoo
Forearm Wolf Tattoo
Forearm Wolf Tattoo
Forearm Wolf Tattoo
Forearm Wolf Tattoo
  • Wolf Hand Tattoos

A wolf tattoo on the hand is a great place to put a wolf tattoo when you want to make a statement as well as be constantly reminded of the power and strength of the wolf.

A wolf works to intimidate and defend, and a wolf on your hand is a reminder every time you look at your hand that you’re connected to the strength and bravery of the wolf.

Wolf tattoo on the back of the hand
Wolf tattoo on the back of the hand
Wolf tattoo on the back of the hand
Wolf tattoo on the back of the hand
  • Wolf Chest Tattoos

The wolf is the ultimate symbol of bravery, strength, and intensity, all elements of a true warrior.

A wolf tattoo on your chest is a sign of a warrior, a wolf that pursues its prey defends its pack and wins every time.

With the wolf emblazoned boldly on your chest, every person who comes into contact with you will take note of your strength and power.

Wolf Chest Tattoo
Wolf Chest Tattoo
Wolf Chest Tattoo
  • Wolf Shoulder Tattoos

Wolves are prowling animals, ones that stalk their prey and are known as some of the fiercest tracking animals in the world.

A wolf tattoo on the shoulder gives a wolf ample space to be tattooed in their watchful, prowling stance, one that carefully evaluates the world around them and analyzes any threats and dangers before approving them, making this tattoo a fantastic choice for those who want to emphasize their waiting and watching attitude to life.

Wolf tattoo on the shoulder
Wolf tattoo on the shoulder
Wolf tattoo on the shoulder
Wolf tattoo on the shoulder
Wolf tattoo on the shoulder
Wolf tattoo on the shoulder

Wolf Tattoo Symbolism

Wolf legends have meant many things to many people throughout the ages.

Wolves are intelligent and loyal. They protect and serve their pack.

Some people get wolf tattoos to symbolize their dedication to family.

A lone wolf is a wolf that has been cast out of the pack.

This can happen for multiple reasons and sometimes it is even for strategic breeding.

Lone wolves often end up joining new packs, but humans have embraced them as a symbol of “otherness.”

Many people with wolf tattoos identify with the idea of a lone wolf, living on the fringes of its community.

Some cultures see the wolf as a deeply spiritual creature, but in other legends, it seems to represent pure evil.

When you decide to get a wolf tattoo, it’s best to decide on an intention going in.

That way you know what your wolf means to you.

Let’s explore the symbolism of wolves in different cultures, throughout the years!

Why Are There So Many Wolf Fables?

Since people learned to read and talk, they have told stories.

Fables have existed for longer than we can possibly know.

They started as an oral tradition, and were collected and written down by various storytellers.

Aesop was a Greek storyteller who compiled some of the most famous fables in the mid-sixth century BCE.

These stories have been imagined and re-imagined countless times, and are still inspiring children’s books to this day.

Much later, the brothers Grimm would compile their own 17th-century collection of morality stories.

There is some overlap between Aesop’s fables and the Grimm’s fairy tales.

The Grimm’s stories were often quite gruesome, much different from the fluffy kids’ books of today.

Fables usually have a moral or message, particularly for children.

In these stories, wolves often feature as a threat to our protagonist.

In a time when the world was wilder and children were often left to their own devices, these stories served to frighten them into good behavior.

Wolves are cunning hunters, and they move skillfully in packs.

There is a myth that wolves do not rush on people.

That may be true today due to the wolf population being smaller and most people living in cities, but it wasn’t always this way.

In the middle ages, France in particular had a huge wolf problem.

They are pack animals and will always serve their pack.

Fables About Wolves

In fables and fairy tales, wolves often represent danger and our most primal desires.

They act as reminders of the evils of the world, lest we stray from the moral path.

  • Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood is one of the most famous fables in history.

It has been re-imagined hundreds of times and translated into at least 11 languages.

In Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf symbolizes lustful duplicity.

Red gets herself into trouble when a wolf convinces her to stray from the path to her grandma’s house.

While Red is distracted picking flowers, the wolf finishes Red’s grandmother and lays in wait for Red to come by.

In one of the original telling of the tale, the wolf prepares Red’s grandmother as a meal.

He uses his cunning to trick Red into eating her own grandmother, then asks her to take off her clothes.

Each time she removes an item of clothing, the wolf says “throw it in the fire, you won’t need it anymore.”

He then asks Red to climb into bed and ‘devours’ her.

In some stories, Red gets away and even saves grandma from the belly of the beast, in others she does not.

No matter which version of the tale you’re familiar with, the wolf represents the ‘slippery slope’ of morality.

When he can use his charms to convince Red to stray from the path, he can convince her of anything else.

The story is a bit problematic by today’s standards.

But the symbolism can be useful.

Taken in this context, a wolf tattoo may represent your primal desires.

Are you trying to remind yourself to stay on the moral path?

Perhaps you deal with issues of anger or weakness.

Maybe this will remind you of the dangers of listening to our inner wolf.

  • The Three Little Pigs

Trying to remind yourself to work hard and not take shortcuts?

The three little pigs may be an important story for you.

In this tale, three pigs are building homes for themselves.

Two of the pigs want to get the task done quickly so they can play and have fun. But the third pig takes its time.

The third pig builds a proper house out of bricks, even including a fireplace.

Of course, when it comes time to defend themselves from a big bad hungry wolf, the hastily put together houses get blown down.

That leaves the third pig to provide shelter for everyone.

The wolf is unable to blow the bricks down and even burns his tail trying to climb in through the fireplace.

This fable shows us the consequences of always taking a shortcut.

You may have a responsible friend who can bail you out trouble, but eventually, you’re going to have to work and think for yourself.

In this case, a wolf tattoo would represent your dedication to hard work.

It could also represent an agreement to make sacrifices, and your resolve to not give up so easily.

  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf

In this famous tale, a boy continues to prank his town by yelling “wolf, wolf!”

Then laughing when everyone comes running.

The joke is not so funny anymore when, one day, the boy is actually attacked by a wolf and no one comes.

The meaning of this wolf tattoo would be similar to the three little pigs.

Are you someone who constantly asks for help and attention from the people you love?

A design with this fable in mind could remind you to save your favors for when you really need them.

Wolves in Indigenous Culture

Wolf legends vary from tribe to tribe but, overall, Aboriginal peoples are known for their reverence of nature.

Indigenous spirituality is similar to paganism in that it encourages a connection with and respect for all living things.

The wolf is one of many sacred spirit guides within the culture.

Different spirit guides may present themselves to a person throughout their life to teach them lessons or bring forth a message.

In the traditions of the First Nations peoples in the Pacific Northwest, a totem pole may be carved to represent these animals.

Totem poles can represent your individual spirit guides, or they may represent the lineage of a family.

A wolf totem represents living in a balance between community and independence.

It represents the importance of working together as a community, with everyone having a role.

Because many Indigenous people hunt their own meat, they may call upon the essence of a wolf to encourage a successful trip.

If you have an Indigenous background, a wolf drawn in the traditional style of your people may be a beautiful homage to your roots.

The Wolf in Norse Mythology

The binding of Fenrir is an epic tale in Norse mythology.

Fenrir is one of the children born from the giant Angerboda and Loki, the trickster.

Fenrir was a monstrous wolf with demonic red eyes who grew large at an alarming rate after his birth.

The gods grew frightened of his increasing size and strength, so they tried to chain him up.

Telling Fenrir they were playing a game, they tried to restrain him with various chains.

He broke through every chain and became dubious of the game’s intentions as time wore on.

After trying every chain they could forge, the gods commissioned a chain from some dwarfs.

The chain was enchanted, made from strange ingredients like the sound of a cat’s footsteps and the breath of a fish.

When Fenrir the wolf saw this chain, he became immediately suspicious.

He said he would only play the game if someone volunteered to put their hand in his mouth.

Finally, Tyr volunteered for the task. This relaxed Fenrir somewhat, as Tyr was someone he trusted.

When Fenrir was unable to break through the chains, he was furious at having been deceived and betrayed.

He bit off Tyr’s hand, and the god was praised for his sacrifice to keep the community safe.

In some versions of the tale, the gods live in fear of Fenrir.

He continues to grow larger than his chain, and it is said that when he frees himself, he will swallow the sun.

So, what does the story of Fenrir symbolize?

It could be a fear of ephemerality.

Try as we might, we cannot escape our inevitable impermanency.

Does the story of Fenrir resonate with you?

Maybe your Viking wolf tattoo design could be inspired by the tale.

The Wolf in Occult Traditions

Wolves have an association with magic and the moon.

Wolves are nocturnal and turn their faces to the sky to produce a howling sound, so they often seem to be howling at the moon.

This has given them all kinds of mystical associations, and is likely where the werewolf legend stems from.

On the tarot card “the moon,” a wolf and a dog stand on either side of a body of water and howl at the moon.

This card represents the conscious and unconscious, the seen and unseen, the wild and tame aspects of our personality.

A wolf can represent your primal instinctual nature.

During the witch trials, wolves became linked with witchcraft.

Many people believed that members of their community could turn into wolves, and would blame them when their property was attacked by one.

An occult leaning wolf tattoo may symbolize the connection you have with your instinctual side.

It may also represent the symbolism of wolves in witchcraft: loyalty and perseverance.

The Greek Legend of Lycaon

It is believed that the first werewolf story comes from the Greek myth of King Lycaon.

You may have heard the word ‘lycanthropy’ used to describe werewolves.

This comes from the Greek ‘lukos’ meaning wolf, and ‘antropos’ meaning man.

There are a few versions of the Lycaon myth, but the one with the werewolf is perhaps the most influential.

Lycaon ruled over Arcadia, but he wasn’t thought of as a particularly good King.

He was known to act superior, even making child sacrifices at times.

To see if he really was such a cruel King, Zeus came to earth disguised as a mortal man.

The people of Arcadia noticed Zeus’s godly nature right away, and became enamored with the man.

Lycaon wanted to know which god was lurking around the Kingdom, so he set out to enrage the man.

This, Lycaon thought, would force the god to show his true colors.

Lycaon made another child sacrifice (some say his own son,) and prepared the meat for Zeus.

Upon discovering this despicable act, Zeus threw a lightning bolt at Lycaon.

Acting quickly, the King was able to escape.

Luckily Zeus caught Lycaon as he was running away, and punished him by turning him to a wolf.

The moral? Some say this story was written because the people of Arcadia participated in acts of cannibalism to honor Zeus, and scholars wanted to put an end to it.

It may also be about staying humble, knowing your rank, and respecting your elders.

Lycaon may not be an honorable subject for your next wolf tattoo.

But if you’re a fan of werewolves, it may be a fun idea to pay homage to the story where it all began.

Conclusion

The great thing about tattoo art of any kind is it’s subjective.

People can interpret it in different ways and that’s absolutely fine!

It is fascinating just how meaningful the wolf tattoo can be, and it’s a fierce tattoo for anyone trying to mark his or her body with an incredible piece of art. 


What does a wolf tattoo mean?

Independence
Leadership
Impermanency
Protection

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