The Symbolism of a Wolf Tattoo: What Does it Mean?

There are many kinds of tattoos that have remained extremely popular throughout the years, and the tattoo of a wolf is one of them.

There are hundreds of designs, but the end results remain the same. Ask any tattoo artist, and they will tell you the same: wolf tattoos are some of the most commonly requested designs of the past few decades.

It’s hardly surprising, given that this species has hypnotised mankind for hundreds and thousands of years, inspiring not just emotions of terror and dread, but also respect and admiration. Due to all of these considerations, the wolf has been one of the most popular tattoo designs of all time.

So, what attributes make the wolf tattoo so popular amongst the masses? What makes a wolf so meaningful that it is used to represent so many people’s personalities, being permanently inked onto their skin?

There are many forms of symbolism that are linked with the wolf. Many people resonate with this beast, finding comfort through the animal, along with similarities between them and themselves. The design is especially popular with men, although there are many women who also have wolf tattoos.

In this article, we are going to delve deeper into what the wolf tattoo really represents, looking at the different forms of symbolisms and meanings. 

Let’s get into it.

The Symbolism of a Wolf Tattoo

What Is A Wolf?

So, let’s begin with the basics. 

The chances are that you, the reader of this article, know what a wolf looks like, even if you have never seen one in the flesh.

They have made appearances in several bedtime stories and children’s cartoon movies, classics such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, meaning that many of us have been aware of the existence of this species before we were even able to walk or talk.

A wolf is a carnivorous, doglike creature, stemming from the canidae lineage. There are many different species of wolf, with the Canis lupus being the most widely recognized across the world. The Canis lupus is often more commonly known as a gray wolf. 

We, as human beings, have always admired the species from afar. Early civilizations strove to replicate the wolves’ habits while hunting, but as time went on, the creature came to be regarded as an evil threat to humanity.

Its ferocious nature was considered not only a rival to humans, but also to larger carnivorous animals.

When it became considered that wolves were a threat to their livestock, hunters in the US began killing wolves all across the country, eradicating them until they only existed in the northeastern forests of Minnesota.

By 1974, wolves were considered an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

While wolves are considered to be vicious creatures, they have actually been reported to become close and friendly to humans when they are not within a stressful environment with easy access to food.

In the wild, they live in packs with up to ten others of their kind, sometimes more, and they build extremely close bonds with their peers. They also follow an established dominance hierarchy, in which an alpha male and female guide the rest of the pack.

Both male and female wolves take part in hunting, although it is predominantly the males that take part in this task.

The Symbolism Of A Wolf

Wolves have existed all across the planet for many centuries, therefore they appear in almost every civilization’s mythology and folklore. 

Strangely enough, despite the distances between these cultures, many of them have the same beliefs and ideas when it comes to the traditional symbolism behind a wolf. There are many people who feel a connection to these rare animals, whether that be spiritual or through pure interest.

Generally, the wolf is known to be linked with powerful traits, such as loyalty, protection, endurance, and friendship: these traits are linked to the way wolves travel in packs, and how they form incredibly close bonds with their peers.  

Seeing A Wolf In Your Dreams

Wolves are often viewed as spirit guides in many cultures, carrying a deep, sacred energy with them. Many people believe that seeing a wolf in your dream, in the very root of your subconscious, could indicate several things depending on the context.

Some believe that seeing a wolf in your dream indicates that you may be going through a spiritual awakening, and you are being encouraged to trust your instincts and connect with your spiritual self on Earth.

It has also been known to be an indication that you may be learning to channel your psychic gifts.

Others believe that the image of a wolf, being a natural predator, could be signifying that an impending threat is on the horizon.

The dreams may make you feel scared or anxious, but it is believed that these specific dreams occur to teach you something about yourself that you have not quite realised yet. 

A Wolf As A Spirit Animal

Several cultures believe that we are often guided throughout our lives by spirit animals. It is believed that every person has their own specific spirit animal, determined by when they were born, and what their zodiac sign is.

If a person’s spirit animal is a wolf, this may indicate many things. Wolves are thought to come into our lives as spirit animals to help and teach us about personal power, balance, self-control, and animal instincts. 

These creatures are fantastic instances of being in control of your own destiny: they will find no issue letting predators know that they are willing to fight to the death, yet they rarely begin conflict.

They teach us, as humans, to pick our own battles, but to always come prepared. The wolf also teaches us to appreciate our place within our community: when we are surrounded by those we trust, we find a sense of belonging. However, we must also learn how to survive on our own.

Other Forms of Wolf Symbolism Throughout History

Wolves are known for representing fierceness, cruelty, bravery, and victory in several forms of myths, folklore, and fairytales. In certain instances, the wolf might be shown as a powerful protector of weaker species. 

These creatures were/are celebrated and respected in many cultures and forms of mythology. Wolves were revered in both the Roman and Scandinavian cults of Mars and Odin, and wolf skins were worn to symbolise the squad’s solidarity in Hittite, Iranian, Greek, German, and other Indo-European cultures.

The most well known culture with a strong connection to wolves are the Native American tribes, who consider the wolf as a symbol of guidance.

A mythical creature linked to the wolf is the she-wolf, which is mentioned throughout many cultures.

The notion of a tribe’s forefather being nurtured by one is a recurring topic in Eurasian mythology, and in Roman mythology, the founding of Rome itself was determined by a she-wolf, which is now displayed in many artforms around the iconic, ancient city. 

Wolf Tattoo

The Meaning Behind the Different Styles of Wolf Tattoos

It is easy enough to decide that you would like a tattoo of a wolf, but the biggest decisions to make are what style you want, what image, and which location on your body you would like it placed onto.

A little wolf tattoo is the perfect way to carry your own amulet of protection with you at all times if you wish to feel protected and shielded in your daily life, while also being able to hide it away if needed.

A smaller sized tattoo can be applied anywhere on your body, creating a subtle reminder of the pack’s protection, whereas a bigger tattoo will make a much larger statement to those viewing it. Many people decide to have a wolf-themed sleeve, using the image of a wolf as the centerpiece. 

The image of a lone wolf represents independence, an idea that may appeal to those with strong personality types.

Lone wolves are more cunning and intelligent than typical pack wolves as they have had to learn to fend for themselves rather than depending on their pack, making them significantly more dangerous and predatory. 

Others are attracted to the image of a more mythical styled wolf, such as the ones we remember from fairy tales of our youths. The wolf has always been rich ground for fiction and myth, from the wolf that follows Little Red Riding Hood, to the terrifying, mythical werewolf.

The werewolf, in particular, may represent the split of a personality, portraying the two sides of a person’s temperament.

Deciding on the Location of a Wolf Tattoo

When it comes to being tattooed, your body is an open canvas: you can get one on virtually any body part, providing you do not already have a tattoo covering that specific area.

Depending on the detail and scale that you wish to go into your tattoo, you will have to make some decisions about which is the best place on your body to have the image of a wolf.

If you wish to have a highly detailed tattoo, it will need to be placed on a larger, wider area: this is a popular route to go down, as most people with wolf tattoos will have decided to have them placed on areas such as their backs, across their shoulder blades, or down their biceps. 

The most popular areas that male clients decide to place their wolf tattoos is across their chests or on their upper arms, whereas female clients tend to have theirs placed on their lower arms or legs.

Final Thoughts

Deciding on any style of tattoo can be difficult, but it is important to remember that the image of a wolf is widely popular for a good reason.

They can take many different forms in terms of aesthetics, but provided that they were created by a professional tattoo artist, they are likely to look great no matter what. Just make sure you do your research beforehand so that you will feel confident in your decision.

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does It Mean To Get A Wolf Tattoo?

The design of a wolf often appears to be particularly masculine, making it an appealing option for males. The lone wolf, which represents freedom and independence, is a popular tattoo motif. A pack of wolves, on the other hand, represents family connection and protection of family members.

What Are The Different Colors For Wolf Tattoos?

The most frequently used colors in traditional wolf tattoos are black and red. The colors have always been a key combination for a traditional and cultural design in various traditions and countries. The usage of red, black and white ink is considered a classic style within tattoo culture.

What Does It Mean To See A Wolf In Your Dreams?

Wolves are often viewed as spirit guides in many cultures, carrying a sacred energy with them. Many people believe that seeing a wolf in your dream could possibly indicate that you are becoming in touch with your inner spirituality, or that a threat is impending.

What Does It Mean To Be A Wolf Spirit Animal?

If the wolf is your spirit animal, it could be a reflection of your acute intellect and powerful instincts. The wolf represents a deep bond with instincts, so when it presents itself as an animal spirit guide, it could indicate a similar manner of observing and comprehending the world around you.

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Max Peters