Wolves roamed the forests and tundras in ancient times, and although their range and numbers shrank, they remain a symbol of magnificence, wonder, and strength. A wolf tattoo carries many meanings and they work best when coupled with other symbols. Feathers, stars, dreamcatchers, and crescent moons—the list of complimentary symbols goes on forever. We have gathered many wolf tattoo pictures in an effort to find the best wolf tattoo designs. These unique wolf tattoos charm and mystify all who behold them, and we hope that you find one that matches your spirit! If you want to know about the essentials of tattoo care and keeping, check out our Resources page. If you need to know about the beauty of wolf tattoo designs, read on.
Wolf Tattoo Meaning
Wolves travel in groups of family members called packs. Most people think that alpha males lead wolf packs, followed by alpha females, and going down the line in reverse alphabetical order. They have a number of subordinates and that one wolf in the last rank called the omega wolf. Sound right? Well, wrong! That social structure matches monkeys well, but wild wolves organize themselves differently.
Starting in 1999, researchers overruled that notion and started to observe wild wolves in their natural habitat. The reality is that wolves have no rank. Wolf packs are led by a couple of breeding wolves, and all other members of the wolf pack are their descendants. Any display of dominance by this couple is simply a parent chastising its child. As pups age, they disperse in the wild in the hopes of founding their own pack with a female wolf, rather than fight another ‘alpha’ in an already-existing pack.
Putting Meaning into the Wolf Tattoo Designs
How does this carry over into tattoos? Wolves and their tight-knit families represent loyalty, friendship, intelligence, and communication. They practice these traits in the wild and some dogs will share these traits with their wild cousins. In Roman mythology, a she-wolf raised Romulus and Remus after she found them abandoned. The Celts thought of wolves as a source of lunar power, the Chinese promoted them to guardians of the heavens, and Norse mythology depicted them as the steeds of the victorious Valkyries and Odin himself. Wolves represent controlled strength and wisdom wherever you look.
At the same time, fairy tales and legends cast the wolves in a dark light. For tens of thousands of years, wolves hunted and caught the same prey that we did. As humans migrated into new territories, wolves would even hunt humans! Modern-day accounts of wolf attacks remain rare, but the ones that do spread terrify. In January of 2015, a super pack of more than 400 wolves attacked a town named Verkhoyansk in Russia. A shortage of rabbits in their mountainous territory brought many smaller packs out of the mountains, and they banded together to hunt larger prey.
Ultimately, wolves compete with us directly in every place our territories overlap. They rule the wild, and we rule the cities. A wolf tattoo depicts a powerful predator that can look us in the eyes as equals. They represent cunning, intellect, wisdom, terror, and sheer strength.
Wolf Spirit Animal
A spirit wolf meaning differs from the usual wolf symbolism. When a wolf appears to you in your dreams, it communicates with you as a spirit animal. Whether the wolf is simply a messenger or a personal guardian is up to you to determine. People with wolf spirit animals show deep intelligence, fierce individuality, and an unmatched loyalty to their friends and family. In dream interpretation, the wolf appears as a symbol of masculine desire. You may be interested in a male partner or find yourself obsessed with someone.
A spirit wolf tattoo tells others of your sensitivity and quest for wisdom. Adding a blue color to a wolf design, a moon as the background or in the pupils of the wolf, or only using blue instead of black and gray can all turn a normal wolf design into a spirit wolf tattoo design. Of course, using color can have its pros and cons—think carefully about what kind of design you want!
Small Wolf Tattoo
Placing a small wolf tattoo under your wrist and on top of your ankle makes for a hidden design that says a lot about you. In day-to-day conversations, people can clearly see the tattoos, but you can also hide them whenever you want. This leads to some pleasant surprises if you meet someone in a casual setting for the first time! A small wolf tattoo appears in a variety of designs. Normally, the face of a wolf fits best in such small spaces. A howling wolf head or a wolf staring out at the viewer shows a range of emotions and gives you an air of mystery.
If you want more than just a wolf head, shrinking down the silhouette of a walking wolf works best. The figure is recognizable, the design doesn’t have too much or too little detail, and you can orient the direction of its walk however you like to suit your personal preference.
Lone Wolf Tattoos
When we talked about wolf packs, we skipped over the lone wolf. When a wolf cub leaves its pack in search of a mate to found a pack of its own, it travels alone across the lands. If it prefers to live without a mate or finds no one that meets its standards, it becomes a lone wolf. Lone wolf tattoos represent endurance, emotion, longing, pain, and the passage of time.
If you walk into a tattoo shop asking for a lone wolf tattoo, you’re going to have a bad time. Loneliness is an abstract concept, which means every person in the world has their own ‘visuals’ associated with it. The artist could draw you a lone wolf tattoo, but their interpretation might be very disappointing compared to your imagination! Instead, follow some of these tips to help your artist build a lone wolf tattoo concept:
- Think about what loneliness means to you. What does loneliness look like? Tell your artist as many visual examples as you can think of.
- Add a background to show that the wolf really is alone in the wilderness.
- Create a portrait of a wolf staring out—but not directly at someone. The failure to meet eyes shows that your wolf is less about dominance and more about inner emotion, like a lone wolf.
- Howling wolves represent lone wolves well. However, howling is a way that wolves use to communicate, so think about why your lone wolf is communicating before you get it tattooed on.
Check the artist’s design and portfolio before getting tattooed to ensure you get the tattoo you want.
Wolf and Feather Tattoo Meaning
Native American wolf tattoos are on the rise as Native American culture spreads through America…which is an odd thing to say, since Native American cultures predate the countries of USA, Canada, and Mexico. You would think that their stories and traditions would be ubiquitous in the region, but we still have a long way to go until Native Americans gain all of their rightful dues. The popularity of Native American symbols is one of the things that has spread throughout the culture soup of America, and whether you view that as a positive or negative thing, there’s no stopping it.
So what sort of wolf tattoos can you get? A crow feather represents balance, freedom, and wisdom. Eagle feathers represent strength, prestige, and the heavenly skies. When you couple these symbols with a wolf tattoo, they enhance the respective traits of the wolf. There are other feathers with different meanings, but these are the best suited to the wolf. Why?
Wolves and Eagle Feathers
Rewarding someone with an eagle feather is one of the highest honors to have. As rulers of the skies, holding one of its feathers grants you a closeness to the heavens. They are seen as a sign from above, and granted to those in leadership or great respect. The eagle compliments the wolf well, and both serve as reminders for how you should act. A wolf and eagle feather tattoo keeps you from acting poorly and dishonoring the design.
On the other hand, crows are not regal at all. So why pair it with a wolf? Crows and wolves pair together naturally in the wild. Flocks and packs will recognize and aid each other in finding dangers and food. Crows will caw around carrion or wounded animals to attract wolves and pick the leftovers once the wolves are done. The wolves take care of any land predators that threaten the crow. This partnership between species remains an active phenomenon. To this day, you can see these animals working together. Both animals represent cooperation, friendship, and loyalty, so pairing the wolf with the crow feather shows your respect for those around you.
Arrow tattoo meanings change depending on the type of arrow. A single arrow highlights the defence and protection that a wolf provides to those it loves. Two arrows flying in different directions brings out the aggressiveness of a wolf. A broken arrow symbol represents piece, and adding it to a wolf tattoo design shows your inner philosophy.
Japanese Wolf Tattoo Meaning
The Japanese wolf went extinct in roughly 1905. In Japanese mythology, wolves take a backseat to foxes as the major canines. That doesn’t mean they go unnoticed! Japanese gods—called Kami—sometimes took the form of the wolf. The wolves guarded mountains and mountain villages and their rarity made them more of a spiritual entity than a physical one. They punished evildoers, rewarded the good, and removed the threats of beasts and boards in the area. A Japanese wolf tattoo shows a complex history of the balance between nature and humanity in the region of Japan.
Wolf Tribal Tattoo
Tribal wolf tattoos borrow from the Polynesian art style and create a symbol of the wolf. If your tattoo artist is excellent, they might include symbols from the rest of traditional Polynesian tattoos to give your tribal wolf tattoo meanings. Otherwise, your tattoo will simply be a lovely art piece. An alpha wolf tribal tattoo incorporates the ‘alpha’ symbol literally into the design. As we mentioned before, there is no such thing as an alpha wolf—but that doesn’t stop it from being an integral symbol in human culture!
Tattoo Ideas For Men & Women
Do you want to focus on something that better suits your gender identity? That’s a tall order since art has no need to be defined by gender—it is inanimate, for goodness sake—but you can use these tricks to make a traditionally masculine or feminine wolf tattoo. Use more color, curves, and implied lines in feminine tattoos. Avoid straight lines, as these sharp edges are associated with masculinity. Location-wise, getting a wolf tattoo on your chest is one of the more manly things you can do in your life.
Traditional female locations include the wrists, ankles, small of the neck, behind the ear, and of course the infamous tramp stamp. Wolf tattoos for men focus on the face of the wolf or a howling wolf, while wolf tattoos for women can use the entire body of the wolf rather than just the face. Of course, these are only guidelines. Feel free to experiment and find a design that matches you personally!
Wolves are majestic and mysterious creatures. Beautiful wolf tattoos for women and fashionable wolf tattoos for men define who they are. Remember to live your life with the same patience, cooperation, strength, endurance, and loyalty that a wolf tattoo offers. Do you think you need a reminder, or do you find yourself struggling with these things? Then maybe that wolf tattoo will help you cement things into shape.
Did you enjoy these unique wolf tattoos? Did you find something that matches you? If not, let us know what you’re looking for! We would love to explore more designs with you. Check out the rest of InkDoneRight for a bunch of image galleries, tattoo features, and more! Join our email list for periodic updates or follow our Twitter for updates as they happen. As always, thanks for reading!