Dove Tattoo Meaning

The dove comes from the Columbidae family of birds. A graceful, peaceful and beautiful bird. Typically people think of a white dove but there are many kinds and subtle colour differences.

With more than 300 species around the world, the only continent they are not found in is Antarctica. 

The dove is found in mythologies, folklore and many cultures around the world. Symbolising slightly different things depending on where you go and what you believe. Below are some main points that are believed to be symbolic of the dove.

Woman's hand with dove tattoo

What Does A Dove Symbolize?

Religion & Spirituality

Two of the most common subjects related to the dove are spirituality and religion. The dove is a very prominent animal in the bible representing the end of the flood and the rebirth of life on earth.

It is also a powerful spirit animal and an omen for many people. Offering peace, grace, hope, kindness and selflessness. 

Love & Devotion

Love is probably one of the most well-known symbolizations of the dove. Seen in movies and read in books worldwide, doves are often used in romantic gestures and weddings. The dove is a sign of purity and love.

Devotion falls under a similar bracket, going hand in hand with love. Devotion, commitment, eternally being there for someone or something is often related to the dove.

Peace

Around the world, the dove is a symbol of peace. It’s almost impossible to figure out exactly when the dove became a symbol of peace. We know that humans began to domesticate doves and pigeons before the time of written language about 10,000 years ago.

For a long time, doves were used as a food source and to send messages to faraway lands. Doves are also very calm and loyal natured birds compared to other birds like hawks and owls, which have a more predatory nature.

They are also very affectionate with their mates and are monogamous for life. It was likely this that made them symbols of peace.  

Navigation

Slightly tying in with the point above, doves were used for navigation for a long time, due to their exceptional navigational skills. Even when they fly hundreds of miles away from their homes they have exceptional skills of finding their way back.

Doves are said to be a good reminder that we all have an extra sense within us, one that we can tap into, an instinct we aren’t consciously aware of in day to day life but all have within us. It is this unique and unexplainable sense of navigation from the dove that reminds us of this. 

Credits: JK_Tattoos

Grace & Gentleness

Due to their graceful nature, the dove symbolizes purity and the undeserved blessing of kindness and tranquillity. With their selfless actions, they do everything very graciously. 

Purity & Hope

Across the world the dove symbolizes purity. … across many cultures, the dove represents purity, gentleness, devotion, beauty, and faith.

Early Christians used doves in their baptism ceremonies, often on their sepulchres and in the story of Noah in the Bible when the floodwaters receded, Noah sent out a dove which came back with an olive leaf which showed that the Biblical flood was over and that life had returned to Earth, thus representing hope. 

Dove Tattoos

Getting a tattoo on your skin for life is a commitment in itself. Every individual has different artistic tastes and preferences. When it comes to the dove it can be seen in many different styles and sizes. Some are simplistic with few details, others are rich in depth and detail.

The dove can be shown with its wings spread, wings closed or even one broken wing, representing a broken faith of some kind. 

The meaning of a dove tattoo is very specific for each individual. Often it falls under some of the points mentioned above, whether it’s a person you love or religious or spiritual beliefs. 

A Dove In Flight & Olive Branch

In Christianity, a dove holding an olive branch is a representation of hope after facing adversity. In the bible, it was when the flood receded and life came back to earth. A dove in flight represents openness and faith. 

Credits: tura_satana83

White & Black Doves

A white dove represents hope and innocence whereas a black dove can represent death but usually, it’s spiritual death and a change of direction in life. Maybe the death of the old self and the rebirth of the new. In general black birds represent higher purpose and mystery as opposed to the innocence of the white dove. 

Japanese Art / Dove With A Sword

In Japanese culture, the dove with a sword represents war as it was directly associated with the God of War. If the dove is holding a sword it represents the end of a war and hope for the future.

Two Doves

Two doves are often associated with couples in love. Doves being monogamous and devoted birds, having two represents the commitment and love to another, often married couples or life partners. 

man tattooing dove

Frequently Asked Questions

Where To Get Your Tattoo?

There are some classic places to get a dove tattoo, but to be honest it’s completely up to you. For a woman, a common place is the lower back. For a man over the heart, chest or shoulder.

More subtle places to get it are the ankles or the wrists. Obviously, a lot of placement depends on the size of your tattoo. 

Who Gets Dove Tattoos?

There are many reasons for people to get a dove tattoo. One reason may be because the dove is your spirit animal… When the dove is your spirit animal, you have been blessed with a caring guide who can help you navigate the ups and downs of life with hope and tranquillity.

Dove people are loving, calm, and kind. They also tend to be very diplomatic with softer opinions. A dove suddenly coming into your life can be a reminder for you to continue to put out love and kindness into the world. 

People who get dove tattoos tend to be open-minded, full of love and kindness with a hopeful outlook on life. They may also have solid morals, with commitment and loyalty being very important to them. Dove people also tend to be very transparent with their emotions.

Not as a sign of weakness but as a willingness to show emotion without shame or regret. Often people with doves have had hard struggles in life, and the dove represents the strength of overcoming these struggles. 

Why Should You Get A Dove Tattoo?

There are lots of different reasons a person might get a dove tattoo. Probably the most common being committed to religious or spiritual beliefs. People also choose a dove tattoo to promote peace in the world and to remind themselves of their peaceful and hopeful nature.

It can also be a sign of love for something special or to someone special, or to remember someone lost in the family or a friend or soulmate. Also, it can represent the ending of a hard chapter in life, whether it is a personal battle or a rebirth of ideals.

Normally doves don’t represent anything negative or dark, almost always they are signs of strength, hope, love and tranquillity.

People who want a dove tattoo are usually driven by positive emotions fueled by faith in what’s to come, and a reminder to always promote this energy into the world.

But of course, everyone is different and will have their meanings behind why they have a dove tattoo.

Max Peters