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45 Inspirational Dog Tag Tattoo Designs – What Makes Them So Special?

The very first dog tags were introduced in the 19th century and if you can believe it they were first made of wood! Today many militaries use dog tags so that soldiers can be identified on the battlefield, even when they can’t speak for themselves.

The most iconic dog tags are those of the American Military, this is because of their imagery in many films and television shows. These metal tags are hung on a stainless steel beaded chain and contain vital information about the soldier such as his name, unit, blood type, and religion.

These tags are always worn in pairs – the reason for this is so that one can be left with the body if it cannot be moved straight away and one can be taken.

Now, what about dog tag tattoos? Are those also reserved for those in the armed forces? The answer is no! While this type of tattoo will often be chosen by soldiers it can be worn by civilians too – that includes both male and females.

The great thing about a tattoo like this is that it carries quite a positive message and usually has special meaning to the client.

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Dog Tag Designs To Consider

There are a few different styles of dog tag tattoo designs to consider and sometimes the types listed below could be mixed into a design – depending on what the client wants. These types of tattoos are highly personal and often include subjects with very specific meaning to the client.

Tags with other military symbols –Because dog tags are so closely associated with the military it is common for this type of design to be mixed with similarly themed subjects.

These could include tanks, helmets, bullets, flags, eagles, boots, and even the names of the battles that a soldier fought in.

Spiritual – Spiritual subjects are often included in these designs. For example, the tags may be draped over praying hands or they could be attached to a beaded rosary. Other spiritual subjects could include crosses and portraits of the Virgin Mary.

Memorial – Clients may want a dog tag tattoo to help them remember a friend, fellow soldier, family member or loved one. This will usually include that person’s information and sometimes their date of birth and death.

Sayings – Inspirational slogans or quotes are commonly requested to accompany this type of tattoo. You could choose whatever has significant meaning to you. Some of the commonly requested sayings are – “Live for the fallen” and “Without sacrifice, there is no victory”.

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What Is The Meaning Of A Dog Tag Tattoo?

In Memory Of – Quite often this type of tattoo will be used as a visual reminder of a loved one, especially those who served their country. This is an incredible sign of respect and admiration for their bravery.

Patriotism – A dog tag may be a way of showing your allegiance to your country – even if you are not in the military. It could also be used to represent your service in the armed forces – something to be very proud of.

Respect – A dog tag tattoo will always be associated with respect. Men and women who fight for their country are always deserving of this. When used by couples it is also a totem for mutual respect and dedication. This could even be used as a reminder to respect yourself.

Honor and courage – Armies are associated with discipline and authority, but also honor among the troops and courage. It takes great bravery to go into battle and this type of tattoo is a symbol of this.


Hope – Where there are people willing to fight for their beliefs, there will always be hope for the future. The dog tag is symbolic of this hope.

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Where To Place Your Tattoo

This tattoo is usually a medium size because it would be difficult to include text in very small designs. Designs sometimes include a chain and these are usually placed around the neck; facing either onto the chest or at the back of the neck.

Other common placements include the ribs, chest, wrist, foot, and upper arm.

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What Colors To Use

The majority of dog tag tattoo designs are done in black with shading and this works quite effectively. Tattoos that include flags and even military scenes may include color. Another style that could be considered is Old School, using thick black outlines and simple colors.

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Tattoo Techniques To Consider

Even though they are not three-dimensional most of these types of designs do include shading which helps to add dimension to the tattoo. However, if you want something very unique you could try to find an artist who could do a hyper-realistic or 3D design.

Other unique styles could also include techniques such as watercolor. “Splashes” of color over the design will help it stand out even more.

Important To Remember!

If you are considering getting a tattoo with someone else’s name on it – don’t make your decision lightly. This is something that you will need to wear for the rest of your life and it’s not as easy to take off as real dog tags!

Also, consider the placement of your tattoo – is it something you want everyone to be able to see or do you prefer it to be private?

In Short…

The dog tag tattoo can be worn by those with a military background and those without. Men are more likely to choose this design than women but it is still considered to be a unisex design.

Those who choose this type of design may do so to memorialize a loved one or fallen comrade, show their allegiance or as a sign of respect. When considering your design think about what else you could include in the design to make it personal and unique to you.

This will be a special tattoo that you will always be able to keep near to your heart and use as inspiration for difficult times!

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