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Inking Man's Best Friend

Poodle tattoo by Tattooist Cara with blog article title

Today is National Dog Day, a celebration of America's favorite furry companion.

The chief goal of National Dog Day is to spread awareness about the many homeless pets awaiting their forever family in shelters across the country. There are plenty of ways to celebrate National Dog Day, but truly dedicated dog lovers celebrate every day with a tattoo paying homage to man's most loyal companions.

If you've ever had a dog, you know exactly why numerous pet owners choose to permanently ink themselves with a portrait of their beloved companion. Dogs are loyal, loving, and empathetic. They give us company during times of isolation, they help protect the public as police companions, they guide the blind, and they serve as irreplaceable emotional support to our veterans.

For all these reasons, nearly half of all households in the United States are home to at least one dog. The following tattoos may inspire you to get a tattooed portrait of your furry friend — or, if you don't yet have a companion, these tattoos may compel you to visit your local animal shelter.


small realistic tattoo of a pug face by tattoo artist Jia

Tiny, cute, and wrinkled, this minimalist tattoo perfectly captures the mean-mugging visage of a pug. The artist behind this pup has devoted much of their career to bestowing realistic pet portraits upon loving owners. Cats, hedgehogs, and of course, dogs of all breeds populate this artist’s portfolio.


tattoo of a tombstone with "There Better Be Dogs" engraved on the surface by Katie McGowan

True dog lovers wish to take their companions everywhere. Whether it’s an airplane or a brewery, you’re likely to happen upon at least one patron who has brought their furry friend along. Dogs keep us company when we’re lonely, and they help break the ice when meeting new people. In fact, dogs are so beloved that some dog-lovers want only one thing from the afterlife — as long as it has dogs, they will be happy.


Tattoo of a poodle with pink peonies by Tattooist Cara

Although most dog-lovers show their affection to pups of all kinds, many would consider themselves loyalists to a few favored dog breeds. Poodles inspire such dedication that it’s not uncommon to find dog-owners with a brood full of these proud, curly-haired friends. Pink peonies make a perfect frame for this particular poodle’s sweet face.


outline tattoo of a dog wearing a hat, shirt, and tie while holding a mug with text "eat, sleep, walkies, repeat" below by Melissa Audrey

If you’re a dog owner who has ever wished to trade places with your companion for a day, you’re not alone. Most dogs live simple and pampered lives. Owners fill their bowls and pet their bellies. For many beloved pets, their greatest obstacle in life is how to coax their owners into gifting them with endless treats.


tattoo of a hand holding a picture of a german shepherd done in American traditional style by Cedric X Weber

Traditional tattoos take on the subjects we love. For decades, the American traditional style has been the go-to method for tattooing tributes to those we love, whether it be our truest companions or beloved mothers.


bulldog tattoo done in American traditional style by Arthur Medina

From delicate poodles to tough bulldogs, tattoo artists have taken on breeds of all kinds. Equipped with a soldier’s helmet, bulging eyes, and sharp teeth, this inked bulldog might only be tougher if it were wearing a familiar spiked collar. Bulldogs are a common motif in the American traditional repertoire thanks to their popularity amongst soldiers in the early days of American tattooing.


minimalist tattoo of paw prints on a woman's thumb by Haney

If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo dedicated to your best furry friend but prefer a subtle homage to a detailed portrait, then a minimalist piece is the way to go. These tiny paw prints are proof that you can wear your love for your pet on your skin without getting a massive hyper-realistic portrait.


tattoos of terrier dogs in a locket with chain by Cassandra Frances

Lockets, like tattoos, hold pictures of the things we hold most dear. This pet owner wants the world to know that her scruffy terriers are what she wishes to hold closest to her heart.


Dogs bring their owners pure joy—a joy that cannot be recreated by humans because dogs truly love us without conditions. They remain loyal as long as they are with us. For this reason, many proud dog owners permanently enshrine their pup’s adorable faces on their bodies. Dogs live short lives compared to humans, so many proud pup parents choose to immortalize their fur babies through tattoos.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.