45 Powerfully Fierce Dragon Tattoos For Men And Women

Photo: Valery Sidelnykov/
woman with dragon tattoo on her back

Dragons may make you think of ferocity and power or magic and chaos, but either way, they make incredible tattoos.

From luck and prosperity to monstrous and evil, these mythical fire-breathing creatures have a multitude of meanings across cultures, and in China and Japan, dragon tattoos are often a popular design choice.

The Meaning of Dragon Tattoos

When you see a dragon tattoo it can be difficult to decipher the meaning because there are so many different possibilities. Even within folklore and mythology, dragons can both symbolize heroism or malevolence.

Some stories paint them as sacred guardians and wise advisors, while in other fables they are an obstacle to overcome.

For example, Hercules had missions of slaying dragons in order to gain immortality and prove his bravery.

Another famous dragon-slaying story comes from pre-Christian origins. In this narrative, Saint George saves the princess and the village of Cappadocia from an evil dragon.

Not all dragon tales come from Japanese and Chinese culture. A dragon tattoo may have more recent inspiration, like Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, or How to Train Your Dragon.

Clearly, when you see someone showing off a dragon tattoo, there is no way to know exactly what it means to the wearer.

You could get a dragon tattoo to symbolize power or luck. Or it might remind you of the obstacles you have overcome. If you are a water sign or simply love the ocean, a dragon tattoo could be a visualization of this. Or maybe you're just a huge Game of Thrones fan paying homage to the Targaryens.

Just as the meaning of dragons varies between cultures, regions and tattoos, so does their appearance.

Some dragons have wings and the capability to breathe fire, while others are far more serpentine. Chinese dragons have five claws, Japanese have four claws and Vietnamese have only three.

Just as there are so many different meanings and appearances of dragons, there are also many varieties of dragon tattoos.

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Dragon Symbolism

To some, dragons are viewed as evil or greedy, while to others they are seen as wise and strong.

In Chinese culture, they are a symbol of good luck and goodwill, often worshiped as gods. Dragons are believed to be governors of water, able to control both the weather and the tides.

Travel to Japan and dragons are mystical creatures that represent balance — yin, and yang.

Celtic dragons signify strength, while among many other ancient cultures, slaying a dragon is viewed as a high honor.

Dragon Tattoo Placement Ideas and Styles

Some incorporate color, while others stick to strictly black ink. The dragon could be detailed and ultra-realistic, or simpler and more symbolic. Some designs lean more feminine while others scream masculinity.

You could get a tiny tattoo on your wrist or an elaborate piece covering your entire back.

From a Celtic dragon tattoo on your shoulder to a Chinese dragon down your spine, the options are truly endless.

Below are our choices for the 9 best dragon-inspired tattoos to inspire your own design.

45 Dragon Tattoo Design Ideas For Men And Women

1. Traditional Chinese dragon tattoo

Photo: Laura Foote

When it comes to dragon tattoos, Chinese-style dragons are a very popular choice.

The serpentine style represents good luck and goodwill and can be done in a variety of colors including a red or a blue dragon tattoo.

2. Feminine dragon tattoo on back

Photo: Тату Барнаул Виталий

Adding flowers to a dragon tattoo on back provides a hint of femininity to the ferocious creature. If you are looking to get a bigger tattoo, your back is an ideal placement.

3. Dragon face tattoo

Photo: Owen Batchelor

A colorful dragon face tattoo can make for a bold and beautiful statement piece.

4. Game of Thrones dragon tattoo

Photo: Paige Unfeigned

Channel the Khaleesi herself with a Game of Thrones-inspired dragon tattoo.

Emelia Clarke, the actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen, even has a similar dragon tattoo of her own to remember her three dragons on the show.

5. Tribal dragon tattoo

Photo: Pixabay / Darksouls1

Tribal dragon designs can make for eye-catching and intricate tattoos.

6. Forearm dragon tattoo

Photo: Drew Smith

This dragon forearm tattoo is an intricately beautiful and detailed piece.

7. Floral dragon thigh tattoo

Photo: Laura Foote

Your thigh is the perfect place for a large and show-stopping dragon tattoo, like this floral one.

8. Skull dragon tattoo

Photo: Laura Foote

Portray power and perseverance with a dragon skull tattoo or add flowers for a more feminine touch.

9. Japanese dragon tattoo

Photo: Jenkens Tattoo

In Japanese culture, dragons represent balance. Promote equilibrium in your life by getting a Japanese-inspired dragon tattoo.

10. Colorful dragon back tattoo

Photo: Jason Mendoza

Adding pops of color, like the pinks and teals in this peace, can make for a bright and beautiful dragon tattoo.

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11. Watercolor dragon tattoo

Photo: Renee at Okami Ink

For a whimsical and delicate dragon tattoo, a watercolor tattoo design is the way to go.

12. Red dragon tattoo

Photo: Tats by Ronn

The red dragon symbolizes good fortune. Attract good luck with an intricate red ink dragon tattoo on hips.

13. Colorful traditional dragon tattoo

Photo: Chris Tolleson

Color can turn an ordinary dragon tattoo into a strong and striking statement piece.

14. Dungeons and Dragons tattoo

Photo: Alex Rowntree

Pay homage to your favorite fantasy RPG with a D&D dedicated tattoo.

15. Rib dragon tattoo

Photo: Mimi-Sama Blackwork

A dragon tattoo will look stylish and trendy when placed on your ribs.

16. Floral dragon tattoo

Photo: Luna Inked

By adding florals to a dragon tattoo, you can create a beautiful contrast between delicacy and danger.

17. Black and gray dragon tattoo

Photo: Alex Trang

Even without any color, this dark black and gray dragon tattoo is undoubtedly eye-catching and bold.

18. Cherry blossom dragon tattoo

Photo: Ernie the Swamp Rat

Because cherry blossoms bloom for a short amount of time, they symbolize renewal and the fleeting nature of life.

These pink flowers make for a perfect and picturesque addition to any dragon tattoo.

19. Floral stomach dragon tattoo

Photo: Shannon O’Beirne

Your stomach is another ideal placement for a prominent dragon tattoo.

20. Thigh dragon tattoo

Photo: Kitti Kulcsar

Whether you go small and delicate, or big and bold, your thigh is a great location for an easily hidden dragon tattoo.

21. Dragon tattoo on arm

Photo: Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures

Your arm is the ideal canvas for a long and elaborate dragon tattoo.

22. Blue dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Scott Dumas

According to Chinese Astrology, the blue dragon symbolizes power and strength.

Adding blue to your dragon tattoo can make the ferocious beast even more mighty.

23. Fire breathing dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Christophor Volk

The fire-breathing creature makes for an especially stunning tattoo when shown breathing fire.

24. Dragon sword tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Barashkova Natalia

Swords can represent power, justice, protection, and courage. Paired with a dragon this is an incredibly powerful tattoo.

25. Yin and yang dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Ljiljana Jankovic

Yin and yang symbolize balance and duality. This tattoo serves as a reminder to appreciate both the good and the bad in any situation.

26. Dragon and tiger tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Wowim

In Buddhist imagery, the tiger represents a hard and relentless power, while the dragon symbolizes a softer and more wise strength.

By combining these two beasts in one tattoo, it will remind you to remain in between the two extremes.

27. Green dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / GOLFX

Aside from the stunning pop of color that the green ink provides, a green dragon tattoo symbolizes growth and rebirth.

28. Realistic half sleeve dragon tattoos

Photo: Pixabay / Squarefrog

In this realistic half sleeve dragon tattoo the dragon looks as though it's about to slither right off his bicep.

29. Dragon wing tattoo

Photo: Simina

This bright and colorful tattoo highlights the beauty of the dragon's wings, which symbolize magic, fantasy and strength.

30. Dragon and phoenix tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Satori.artwork

This colorful dragon tattoo with a phoenix is the ultimate symbol of love. The phoenix brings harmony and femininity to the powerful and majestic dragon.

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31. Small dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Mauro Rodrigues

A dragon tattoo doesn't have to be huge to make a statement.

32. Celtic dragon tattoo

Photo: Emma Rox

Incorporate Celtic art — think thick black lines and twisted designs — into your dragon tattoo to symbolize courage and power.

33. Koi fish dragon tattoo

Photo: Flickr / Punk27fay

By pairing majestic koi fish — which represent perseverance and strength of will — with a dragon, your tattoo will represent transformation and rebirth.

34. Medieval dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / DeepGreen

When you think of dragons from fairytales and folklore a stunning medieval dragon, like this one, likely comes to mind.

35. Dragon head tattoo

Photo: Pixabay / Clker-Free-Vector-Images

No matter the size, this simple dragon head tattoo is a bold and striking piece.

36. Sea dragon tattoo/water dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Satori.artwork

If you're a water sign or just love the ocean, opt for a sea dragon also known as a water dragon tattoo.

37. Simple dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Narokzaad

A dragon tattoo doesn't have to be intricate to stand out.

38. Neon dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Tanya Shatseva

This watercolor design incorporates vivid neon colors for a bright and beautiful tattoo.

39. Dragon heads tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / AKV

These two dragon heads form a yin and yang symbol to represent balance.

40. Dragon sword tattoo

Photo: Amin Sultan Hajiani

Show off your ability to overcome and face your fears with a dragon tattoo on the arm that includes a sword.

41. Black dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Valery Sidelnykov

A dragon tattoo can be incredibly prominent and eye-catching, even without any color.

42. Rising dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Eeng Joe

This ferocious dragon is rising up with what looks like a loud and powerful roar.

43. Full back dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / GOLFX

This serpentine dragon design is detailed enough to cover your entire back.

44. Colorful Japanese dragon tattoo

Photo: Flickr / David Davis

This breathtaking Japanese-inspired dragon tattoo is full of intricate details and vibrant colors.

45. Norse dragon tattoo

Photo: Shutterstock / Mikhail Balashov

The reason that Viking ships were often known as dragon ships was because of their association with bravery, battles and fearlessness.

Any Norse-inspired dragon tattoo will have the same associations.

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Audrey Jaber is a writer living in Boston, Massachusetts. She covers a variety of topics for YourTango, including news, entertainment and astrology.