Tiger Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The tiger is a symbolic animal that is popular in many cultures. The Chinese, in particular, have adopted them as a sign of power, wealth, and courage.

Animal tattoos are a popular way to express yourself through artwork, and tigers are a common option due to their deep significance and ability to diversify the artwork. We will help you decide on the perfect tiger tattoo for you through an analysis of associated meaning, design, and artwork placement and coloring.

You’ll want to consider the other tattoos you currently have and ensure your new design flows effortlessly into your artworks. Learn more and find inspiration for your next ink right here.

Meanings of Tiger Tattoos

Tattoos must have a strong significance and deep meaning to you since they’re permanent. We can help you decide if the tiger is a symbol that you align yourself with.

Cultural Significance

These animals are of strong cultural significance across many nations. For instance, they’re the national animal of four countries:

  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Bangladesh
  • South Korea

These countries connect themselves to the carnivorous cat due to its power, stealth and determination. Will you choose a tiger tat for the same reason?

The Goddess Durga in Hinduism is the goddess for war and overcoming the demons that threaten prosperity. To show her power, she’s often found riding on top of a tiger. Do you also feel that you have overcome your demons with poise and power? If so, how about a Durga tat? 

In ancient Chinese culture, Tsai Shen Yeh, the god of wealth, is also riding atop the wild beast. A coincidence? Powerful figures in cultures used these beasts of the jungle to assert their power. You, too, can use them in tattoo form to show power and strength.

The Third Sign in Chinese Zodiac

The most prevalent meaning of this beast is scripted in the Chinese Zodiac. Chinese astrology states that those born in the year of the tiger are confident, brave and competitive. They do things boldly. Although they can be stubborn, they’ll always remain true to their word and execute with confidence. 

To express yourself with a tiger tattoo shows that you embrace these attributes.

Food Chain

Tigers are an apex predator—they’re at the top of the food chain. If you’re considering a tattoo of this wild carnivore, you’re making the statement that you can’t be hunted. These animals can hunt and kill prey two times their size, so what goals are you about to hunt down?

If you’re an individual who carves your own path in life with resilience so strong that no one can shake you, this is the tattoo for you.

Popular Tiger Tattoo Designs

Tigers are incredibly versatile. You can add them as a small standalone piece or as a large mural. They’re easily integrated into other artworks and can be created with cultural significance or just for fun.

Tiger Head

For those opting for a smaller piece, this could be the design for you. This way, you’ll be able to manipulate the size. Often, the tiger head is placed on the wrist or the finger. 

To express your creativity, you can work with different striped designs to accentuate different features of the animal’s facial structure. The main feature in this artwork is the eyes, which can be used to show confidence and strength.

Tiger in Action

One of the most common tattoos is the striking tiger. It’s often shown with its mouth open, revealing the saber-toothed jaw. This is a great opportunity to show off their impeccable physiology. 

The artist has an opportunity to reveal the details of the muscles of the tiger while running to further show off their strength and power.

This is a great option if you’re seeking to add a piece of art that shows your resilience. We have our challenges in life. Some retreat while others fight. 

If you consider yourself a brave soul who’ll fight for what you want in life, the tiger in action is a great expression of this.

Chinese Symbols

Tigers are most commonly associated with Chinese culture. A popular addition to these tats is Chinese flora or Chinese characters. There are thousands of symbols in the Chinese Mandarin alphabet, many with meanings of significance. 

To express the meaning behind your ink in words, you may choose symbols of power, resilience, and courage.

For the ladies, Chinese flora or fauna surrounding your strong tiger can add some femininity. Common Chinese flowers are the lotus, peony and cherry blossom. The illustration of a tiger in action with soft flowers shows that you’re a fighter, but with grace and poise.

Common Colors

There are many different tiger colors. White, yellow, orange, red, and even blue in mythology. Find the most common options and which is right for your skin tone and personal preference.


Grayscale is a combination of black and grays to create an artwork. It’s commonly used to create depth and a 3D image. This is achieved through exceptional artistry and the use of a combination of grays to create shadowing. 

This may be a great option for you if you already have many tattoos that are grayscaled or if the typical “tiger” colors won’t match your current tattoo theme. It’s also an option for a darker skin tone where orange and yellow don’t show with much vibrancy.


Orange is the typical color we imagine for these animals. Consequently, it’s a popular color for tiger tattoos, too. Orange looks best on lighter skin tones, but a darker orange or red will show on a darker skin tone as well.

Orange is a hot color and can be associated with joy, happiness, and determination. In a tiger, orange shows leadership, tradition, and determination. If you’re a leader, an orange tattoo might be the piece for you.

Green Eyes

The most common eye color choice is green. Green symbolizes ambition, renewal, nature, and money. There’s no question that tigers’ eyes are piercing. To emphasize the eyes, you could choose a greyscale head with green eyes. 

It symbolizes honesty.

Common Placements

Tiger tattoos are often large as they’re symbolic of boldness and courage. Generally, those who opt for this ink seek to embody these qualities. Here are some common placements for them.


Common placements are to place the tiger’s head on the deltoid. To integrate the whole tiger body, the upper arm can be used in a wrap-around theme with the main feature on the deltoid or tricep, where more people can see it. 

It’s also a large enough space to add some smaller details.

The shoulder and upper arm are relatively exposed parts of the body. For those who love to show their artworks to the world, shoulder placement is one of the best choices.


To make a huge statement, many opt for a tiger tattoo that covers the entire back. Often, this is a piece with the animal in action.

You can also integrate other artworks or symbols into the illustration because this placement is roomy. 

Many people will add in elements of the jungle or stars and astrological elements for a mystical touch.


The side tattoo is a popular choice for both men and women. They’re especially popular to show off while in a bikini. 

The tiger can be cleverly placed pouncing diagonally up the body. They’re often a standalone piece when placed laterally; however, it’s common to add minimalistic flowers of symbols. 

Side tattoos are great as they’re hidden on weekdays, but you can show them off in swimwear or a midriff.

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