45 Best Foo Dog Tattoo Ideas

Foo Dog tattoos are a traditional part of both Chinese and Japanese history. A mythical beast, they aren’t really a dog at all – in fact they are a lion! They’re a common occurrence in mythology all over Asia, where a Foo Dog’s job is to watch over temples.

They symbolize good luck for those associated and are certain to guard off evil. People who are looking for a lucky tattoo will do well to consider a Foo Dog.

Placement for Foo Dogs varies, with the designs being popular on the upper arm or the leg, and are more common as a men’s tattoo. They can tie in nicely with other Asian style designs and are best done by a qualified tattooist.

As with all tattoos it is best to think carefully about the design and placement before you jump right into it. Tattoos are there to last a lifetime so you sure as heck don’t want to wind up regretting yours!

Foo Dogs are great for those that are into Asian mythology or designs, or who are just looking for a little bit of something different. They were quite popular in the early 90s but are a little more obscure these days.

Check out these cool designs to see what you think about Foo Dog tattoos!

On the Shoulder

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This Foo Dogg is well situated to protect the wearer’s heart from any sort of emotional damage. You can see the detail in the rest of the tattoo here too – this one focuses on the whole picture, not just the Foo Dog. This man might be thinking about adding in some coloring later, as the design on his arm is quite colorful.

On the Foot

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The design can look more feline or canine depending on what you want. Be careful if you are thinking about getting a tattoo on the top of your foot – these ones can really hurt! Foot tattoos are great for those that would like a tattoo but don’t want it to be seen at work. This one is quite big for a foot design.


Before and After Shoulder

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In the Buddhist religion the lion is considered sacred it’s why sometimes Foo Dogs can look more like a lion. You can see here the outline of the Foo Dog tattoo before it has been colored in. The shading done in the after picture is particularly impressive! Orange and purple are excellent colors to work with to make your Foo Dog tattoo really pop out.


On the Back

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Foo Dog can also represent happiness, energy, and value. This blue and red depiction would look perfect alongside a koi fish or two. We really like the swirls of blue in the mane here – they’re particularly detailed and vibrant.


Green Foo Dog

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Foo Dogs can come in various designs and colors making each one unique. This is a Japanese design of a Foo Dog overlooking the ocean. IMO what really makes this design is the little pink strips on the underbelly of the beast – they are truly unique!



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Although they are originally from China Foo Dogs are loved all over the world. This design is a little more bare than most, made up of many different lines. It looks like they are in the process of continuing on with the design. If you are getting a large tattoo that is detailed and shaded you will have to be prepared to spend a great many hours in the tattooist’s chair! This can also get very costly. You might see many people walking around with unfinished tatts as they are still saving up the money to continue with the piece! It can be an expensive lifestyle habit, but very rewarding too!


Side Torso                                                                                                                     foo dog tattoos 34

This large scale tattoo is on the client’s torso. This menacing Foo Dog has flowers at his feet. Notice the beautiful shading done on this design – it must’ve taken quite a while!


Foo Dog Head

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Tattoo artist selection is always import, especially so with such a detailed piece. This is another Foo Dog protecting the wearer’s heart. The design morphs across into the man’s arm piece too.


Foo Dog on Calf

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Foo Dogs don’t have to be colorful to be beautiful. This Foo Dog was done in grayscale and the detail and shading is quite impressive. The pops of red really highlight the tatt.


Blue Foo Dog on Back

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This large scale tattoo has various Asian symbols around the Foo Dog. The exquisitely colored in back design is a full piece that would have been completed over many different sessions.


Foo Dog and Lotus Flower

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This foo Dog looks more snake like than dog like. This design also has another symbol of the lotus flower. This one almost looks like a cartoon.


Foo Dog in Grayscale

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This grayscale Foo Dog is done in grayscale and has lotus flowers around it on this client’s bicep. Notice the wonderful gray shading detailing that the tattoo artists has done on this design.



Black and Red

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As mentioned before, not all Foo Dogs are colorful, some are done in grayscale. This Foo Dog is done in grayscale but has a splash of red to make it pop. The red is even more of an orange color than usual for these sorts of designs which really does make it stand out even more.


In Progress

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This tatt shows the beginning stages of color and shading for the Foo Dog. See the big blooming lotus flower ready for coloring below the main design of the Foo Dog.


On Elbow

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This Foo Dog was design on the client’s elbow.  This is a powerful design that you can still wear under your shirt if you have an office job to attend!


Foo Dog with Writing

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This red Foo Dog on the client’s upper leg has writing of a saying above it. Look at all the awesome colors at play in this piece, from the light purple or lilac to the sea green.


Foo Dog and Dragon

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A Foo Dog and Dragon make a beautiful scene on this client’s arm. Even though a full sleeve is a lot to commit to, this client has obviously put a great deal of thought into theirs.


Foo Dog and Dandelion

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Some people opt for a Foo Dog for protection and a dandelion that symbolize hope and wishes. This one looks like a more traditional Foo Dog that you would encounter around Asia.


Black Ink

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This Foo Dog tattoo was done in black ink with no grayscale done. Still a very detailed tatt. It looks like the client may be preparing for this tattoo to get some coloring work done. Many tattoos need to be completed across a number of different sessions, especially if they are very detailed like this one is.


Purple Foo Dog

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Like mentioned before Foo Dogs can come in various shapes and colors that are unique like the person wearing them. The fantastic purple and orange colors go together so well because they sit opposite each other on the color wheel. If you’re thinking about different coloring combinations, why not consult a color wheel yourself for a bit of inspiration?


Orange Polka Dot

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Foo Dogs have been depicted in statues and paintings since 208 BC. Crawling and menacing lions alone are repulsing Evil. So, if you are collecting Asian tattoos or if you are looking for a badass, meaningful and colorful idea for your next ink, then these awesome foo dog tattoos could make an impression on you.


Lowrider Foo Dog

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This large scale tattoo has more of a lowrider feel with the saying on the top and the grayscale and some of the symbols. This one is a brilliant tattoo but a lot of commitment! The man likely has added pieces to his body over time.


Red Eyes

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This Foo Dog was done in grayscale with the other symbols of asian culture are colored. You can tell the talent of the tattoo artist in this piece particularly. This design would’ve taken many, many hours to complete. If you are looking to do a large piece such as the one above you should make sure that you research your tattoo artist very carefully. You will need to choose an artist with a lot of skill to be able to complete such a design. You will also want to like the artist as a person too. Imagine spending 15 hours with a person you’ve realized that you don’t like? No thanks!


Yellow Dog

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This Foo Dog is done in golden yellow and looks more feline. The bright gold coloring is sure to make an impact.


Foo Dog with Purple Lotus

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The Foo Dog is done in grayscale, the only color in this tattoo is in the purple lotus flowers. This might be a great design to choose if you prefer a mainly dark tattoo. Notice there is not much skin showing through here.


Foo Dog Red Polka Dots

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This Foo Dog is in green with red polka dots. How great does the bright red look against the fierce gold and blue greens? Colors like the above may fade over time, depending on the quality of the ink. If you find your colors fading, it is easy to pop into your local tattoo shop and get a touch up job of the colors. it won’t cost as much as your original tattoo either!


Dramatic Grayscale                                                                                                                                       foo dog tattoos 17

This large scale tattoo is of a Foo Dog on the clients stomach and two Japanese warriors on either side of chest. This person is a work of art! Be careful if you like tattoos this much as you might run out of space on your body quickly. Laser tattoo removal isn’t cheap and can take many sessions.


Foo Dog and Dragon

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This Foo Dog on the female clients back is accompanied by a dragon, also a sign of protection. We really like the movement in this piece. There are lots of curves, diagonals, and shading at play here.


Foo Dog on Thigh

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Another example of a Foo Dog that is more cat like than dog. Notice how lifelike this nose is on this particular Foo Dog tattoo!


Human Foo Dog

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This tattoo on the clients looks more human than animal… but with lion paws. This design blends in nicely with the previous work there over on his bicep.


Not Finished

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This Foo Dog is not quite finished with the artist just finishing coloring in red on the dog. Traditional white and red is used in a lot of Asian painted scenes. We really like the uniqueness of this piece!


Orange Foo Dog on Bicep

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This Foo Dog looks more canine than feline with his paw on an orb. The pendant around his neck looks like it has lit up with a blue flame, too.


Black Line Foo Dog

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This Foo Dog is only in black line with no grayscale or shading. This wearer may be thinking about adding some color to the design later or continuing with a leg sleeve.


Grayscale Foo Dog

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This proud looking Foo Dog looks more canine and done in detailed shading. Notice the small amount of gold shading around the dog’s head. It really makes this design look fierce and regal.


Female Client

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This female client has a geisha and a Foo Dog on her back. Men aren’t the only ones that have Foo Dogs. Even though they look fierce, they are there to ward off evil.

If you’re thinking about getting a Foo Dog tattoo, make sure that you think carefully about the size, location, and colors that you would like included in your design. A tattoo lasts a lifetime so make sure that you are very happy with what you have decided before you start out with your chosen tattoo artist!

What do you think about Foo Dog tattoos? Do you have any yourself? Got any pics? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know all about it in the comments sections below.