2018 Shiba Inu Tattoo Guide

Tattoos have been around forever, but surprisingly still growing in popularity - especially tattoos that honor someone or something that you love dearly.

Someone like your Shiba Inu perhaps. 

Once upon a time, tattoos were considered the mark of sailors, bikers, and other “tough” crowds, but now just about anyone and their Grandmother has a "tat".

There really are no limits to tattoos and where this wearable artwork can go. When considering about getting a Shiba Inu tattoo, though, there are some considerations and things you should know!

Some Great Dog Tattoo Ideas:

What are the Pros and Cons of Permanent Tattoos?

Permanent tattoos turn your skin into a living art gallery.

Therefore, you need to think about the consequences before getting inked with a Shiba Inu design. Here are some pros and cons to think about:

Pro: Memorial

Many people who choose to get a tattoo have survived something particularly challenging or lost someone or something incredible important to them.

Tattoos can be a statement about overcoming that pain.

The end result is also something that you can carry with you forever and put on display for others to see.

For many of us Shiba parents, losing our beloved Shiba(s) is not something we want to think about. Yet, when the inevitable does happen, a Shiba Inu tattoo is the ultimate tribute that will stay with us until our time ends.

shiba inu tattoo on leg

Credit: The awesome tattoo artist Akumashugi

Con: Social Stigma

There are many jobs and careers that do not allow for visible tattoos.

Therefore, because of the social stigma that tattoos are associated with counterculture and criminal activities, you can find yourself losing job opportunities.

Some entire cultures do not even openly accept tattoos, such as Japan. For example, if you have a visible tattoo sleeve, you won't be able to workout in gyms or go into public pools or  hot springs unless you are covered up.

Pro: Expression

In spite of every negative thing people can say about having a tattoo, it really is just another form of personal expression.

Tattoos can be truly unique – just like a birthmark (but usually prettier). You can put on display exactly what you want, especially if you find a reputable artist who can fulfill the image you have in your head or on paper.

Con: Health Risks

Though there have been a number of technological and health advances when it comes to tattoo parlors, there are still risks.

Depending on how and where you get your tattoo, you are at risk of contracting illnesses or bacterial infections.

Always make sure the tattoo artist or business is reputable and follows the rules.

Not only should the studio be clean, but the needles should all be new. If this doesn't happen, then you shouldn't give that artist your business.

Remember, as with any life decision, getting a tattoo is purely up to you. Where the tattoo goes, what color it is, and the design all come down to your choice.

A tattoo should never be forced upon you.

Capturing the Essence and Chara​cter of Your Shiba Inu:​​

Are There Non-Permanent Options?

Now, let's say you want a tattoo but don't know where it should go...

Or you are a complete commitment-phobe and can't stomach the idea of having something mark you permanently.

In this scenario, you might want to consider some non-permanent, temporary tattoos to sate your curiosity.

There are simple temporary tattoos that may last a week or two.

Others are a bit more advanced and will disappear within 6 months.

So you don't need to worry if you find yourself unhappy with a tattoo or don't like the location, you don't have to worry about keeping the tattoo.

​​​​Here are some non-permanent tattoo options to consider:

Airbrush Tattoos

Need a one-day shiba inu tattoo? An airbrushed version might be perfect for you.

Airbrush tattoos are often used by actors and other people that need to change their look drastically but without any long-term responsibilities.

Once you no longer need the airbrushed tattoo, you simply shower.

Of course, since airbrushed tattoos will also disappear when introduced to sweat, you might want to avoid them in the summertime or any body part that tends to perspire.

Decal Temp Tattoos

You know those tattoos you used to get as kid that you could just peel the backing off and stick on?

Those are still a big deal.

These temporary tattoos often last a couple of days, depending on where it is and what you are doing.

Two Types of Temporary Decal Tattoos:

  • Images with removable backing. The decal image is removed from the backing by wetting then applying the image directly to the skin.
  • Backing that adheres to the skin, creating a barrier between the flesh and the dyes used to create the image.

The difference between the two is that the first can bring about allergic reactions and accidental dying of the skin. The second option is perfect for people with sensitive skin or allergies.

Want a temporary tattoo that won't dye your skin or cause an allergic reaction?

Try Inkbox temporary tattoos.

Not only are you able to design your own tattoo, you don't have to worry about adverse effects.

Inkbox tattoos are made from organic components, such as fruit dyes and natural pigments.

The best part is that these tattoos look completely authentic!

Henna or Mehndi Tattoos

The ever-popular and breathtakingly beautiful Henna or Mehndi tattoos are another great example of semi-permanent tattoo options.

Henna is coloring made from a plant and can also be used for hair dye.

However, because certain chemicals have to be introduced into henna inks to create varying colors, such as black and blue henna, allergic reactions are common in some people.

It's always recommended to test whether or not you will have a reaction to henna before applying a complete tattoo.

In short, temporary tattoos are ideal if you want to express your love of doge to the world for a short term period.

Unlike getting permanently inked, you don't have to worry about needles or social / career backlash.

Where Should Your Shiba Inu Tattoo Go?

Tattoo placement is almost as important as design.

The right spot will bring your Shiba tattoo to life.

For example, a tattoo that features curves or movement will look best on parts of the body that also curve, such as hips, obliques, thighs, or upper arms.

black and tan shiba inu tattoo

Gorgeous B/T Shiba tattoo by Akumashugi

Smaller tattoos look excellent in places where they might be unexpected, such as on the side of a finger, behind the ear, at the nape of the neck, or on your ankle.

Another thing to consider is how visible you want your tattoo.

For professionals, an easy to conceal tattoo might be wiser than something that can't be hidden.

Now, here are some popular places for tattoos and the symbolic meanings or connotations:

  • Lower back – Unfortunately known as the “tramp stamp.” - it's a popular location with younger woman, but probably not the best spot for a tasteful Shiba Inu tattoo. The nickname is all the reason you need not to choose this location.
  • Nape of the neck – A feminine, dainty location for women who don't want to show off their tattoos all the time. Popular designs include scripts (Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, etc.), or some sort of symbol. Small tattoos, like paw prints or feathers, are also very popular.
  • Behind the ear – Another location that is perfect for people who don't want to draw attention to their tattoo. These tattoos are usually low-key, tiny, and minimalistic.
  • Fingers – Minimalists and men often get tattoos on their fingers that have a statement on each hand that matches, such as “love” on the left and “hate” on the right. For the Shibe lover, you might consider “much” on the right and “wow” on the left. Of course, people might think you have been to jail, too.
  • Wrist – Motivational statements are usually found inked on the wrist. The drawback to these delicate tattoos is that you can see them if the sleeves are too short, which can be bad depending on your occupation.
  • Collarbone – Usually the script on the collarbone is larger than those that appear on wrists. Another popular tattoo design for the collarbone would be necklace like designs, like footprints trailing around the shoulders (paw-prints on the heart).
  • Ribcage – Bigger, more artistic designs are often found on the ribcage. Perfect for the person who isn't afraid of showing skin nor their tattoo off.
  • Thighs – This spot has always been popular with ladies for larger designs since you can easily hide them beneath a skirt or shorts, depending on the size.
  • Calves – Men tend to like getting their calves tattooed, especially when they are the type of guy who is in shorts all year round. Usually, the pieces are not cohesive, but the themes might be related.
  • Feet and ankles – Tattoos around the ankle and on the foot are “accessories.”
  • Arms – Usually the most “socially acceptable” zone for tattoos.
  • Chest – Since images here are often close to the heart, it is often assumed that chest tattoos are a sign of love, affection, or a way to memorialize something.
  • Back – Because the back is the largest “canvas,” tattoos here are usually quite complex and cover every inch of the skin. Back tattoos say a lot about an individual, because of the time and effort it takes to accomplish such a grand piece of artwork.  
shiba inu tattoo on leg

Style and Design Variations To Consider

When it comes to choosing what you want your Shiba Inu tattoo to look like, you should know that there isn't just one style of tattoo to make your dream come true.

A traditional tattoo is far different from new school or Japanese. 

Taking a bit of time to learn about your style choices will help you make the right decision on your Shiba Inu tattoo design.

Here is a breakdown of design variations to make a trip to the tattoo parlor less perplexing:


The traditional style isn't necessarily the oldest tattoo form, but it is the one people generally associate with tattooing.

This style became popular during the 1700s when pirates and sailors, such as Captain James Cook met with indigenous tribes and were inspired by the markings on their skin. Sailors started tattooing themselves as mementos of their long voyages.

Elements include thick outlines, bright colors and somewhat “cartoonish” depictions.

New School

Though this tattoo style generally came about during the 80s and 90s, it is still referred to as “new school.” Designs are cartoonish, wacky, bright, and exaggerated.

If you want your Shiba Inu tattoo to look like it came from an episode of Ren and Stimpy, then this could be the style for you.


As the name implies, neo-traditional tattoos keep some elements of traditional tattoos but have more colors and emphasize the illustration. This means these tattoos generally have more texture, such as adding elements to make an image look 3D or plushy.

black and tan shiba tattoo

Neo Traditional Shiba Inu tattoo by talented tattoo artist @akumashugi


The current trend in tattoos is the stunning watercolor style. The look is done by dabbing imagines with watery pastels to achieve a liquid-like look.

 It is no simple feat, but it adds a definite touch of whimsy to any tattoo.

watercolor tattoo style

Watercolor style


Refined, jaw-dropping, and breathtakingly detailed. Think of depictions so realistic that you believe you could reach out and touch it, like fur, feathers, and faces.

Realist tattoos can be utterly surreal when handled by a masterful artist. If you want to get a tribute to a recently departed fur baby, realism might be the way to go.


Also known as indigenous body art, this style is the oldest in the world.

Depending on which tribe you are drawing inspiration from, the designs are diverse, bold, and extremely distinctive.

Tribal is never “small.” You can expect a full-body designs that are very elaborate. Arms, back, and chest are very popular locations for tribal tattoos.


The traditional Japanese tattoo style is called Irezumi. It originated during the Edo period (1603-1868), around the same time as ukiyo-e prints.

A lot of work generally features mythological creatures, koi, dragons, samurai, and geisha. A Japanese-style Shiba Inu tattoo might feature a doge surrounded by smoke, waves, and dragon scales and bright colors.

Since Shiba Inus hail from Japan, this design style would be quite fitting for a Shiba Inu tattoo.


This is a very broad category that applies to tattoos composed solely with black ink.

Geometrical shapes, modern abstract, ornamental designs, and very tasteful illustrations can be mind blowing when done with blackwork.

For example, you might get a tribal Shiba Inu paw print or an all-black photo-realistic rendition of your pupper.

fox wolf shiba inu tattoo design blackwork


These are known to distort reality on the flesh. Because abstract is such a broad term, an abstract Shiba Inu tattoo can feature lines, shapes, and brushwork that isn't expected.

For example, you might have a Shiba Inu silhouette framing a Van Gogh scene.

Or you might have a series of lines that capture the essence of the subject in a minimalist way - like the characteristic Shiba Inu head tilt.  

abstract shiba inu design for tattoo

Before Getting Your Shiba Inu Tattoo - A Few Considerations


No tattoo is meaningless—unless it is the result of a drunken night. 

Though there is no correct reason to get a tattoo, a tattoo with meaning is going to be much more enjoyable than something just marking your skin.

Besides, tattoo artists often want you to describe your motivation for getting a tattoo so they can add that emotion to the piece or capture what you want perfectly.

This process saves you from regret.

However, you also don’t just want to rush out and get a tribute tattoo right after your beloved Shiba Inu passes away.

Take some time to process your emotions and thoughts before deciding if a Shiba Inu memorial tattoo is right for you.

Tribute tattoos are wonderful, but ask yourself: “Do I really want a picture of my dog on my skin forever?

Are there other ways to honor my beloved pet?” 


When you are considering getting a tattoo, try to think of a design that you will cherish forever.

General rule of thumb is waiting a year to get your tattoo. Think hard about designs, placement, cost, and how your tastes are going to likely change over time.

Ask yourself if you would be satisfied with the tattoo design at 70 years of age.


Some tattoo designs may not fit within your current budget.

If this is the case, you can simply think about “outlines,” then fill in the tattoo once you get the rest of the money.

 Detailing and filling always costs more than the outline. 

tattoo of shiba inu

Beautiful, but yet to be completed Shiba Inu tattoo by @akumashugi

However, it may be a better idea to wait until your Shiba Inu design is in your budget before starting the procedure.


Tattoos inevitably fade over time, no matter what you do to treat them.

This happens due to sun exposure and the process of shedding skin.

Therefore, you are going to have to keep going back to the tattoo parlor to keep the tattoo fresh.

Some places give touch-ups for free, while others may charge a fee. 

tattoo artist in action

Yes, pain may be in your forecast....

Pain Tolerance

If you don't like pain, keep this in mind: tattoos placed over bones will hurt the most.

A tattoo on the foot or ribs is going to be very painful while something on a more fleshier region, like your upper arm will be more manageable. Size also plays a role in pain, too.  

However, according to many people with tattoos, the pain is much more tolerable if you are getting the tattoo for a special reason.

A moment of pain for a lifetime of something unique and beautiful made solely for you -- isn’t that what getting tattooed is all about?

Final Thoughts

Shiba Inu tattoos are an excellent way of wearing your love for your special Doge proudly.

There are dozens of styles to choose from, and the only limit is your creativity and wallet.

Whether you want a permanent tattoo or something that doesn’t need a whole lot of commitment - there are many options to explore.

Just remember to take into consideration meaning, placement, cost, and the permanence of getting inked because bringing your Shiba Inu inspired tattoo design to the nearest tattoo artist!

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