Animal Owners Tattoo Their Pets

These animals have been tattooed by their owners, some for identification, some purely for the sake of art.

Is tattooing an animal inhumane, or is it art? Animal Rights lobbyists exclaim in horror as animals receive decorative tattoos from their owners, claiming that animals can’t choose whether or not to not have the tattoos done.

Identification Tattoos

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Owners of rare or valuable pets have the option to tag their pets with an identification tattoo. The marking deters theft, and if the pet is found, the code can be traced back to the owner of the animal. The tattoo allows a person to know who the breeder of the animal is and the litter number that the animal came from, which authenticates the lineage of the animal.

These tattoos are performed while the animal is under anesthetic, at a young age.

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This dog has a Hello Kitty tattoo on its belly, apparently for identification purposes. The dog was tattooed by its owner, while under anesthetic. The actual tattooing process wasn’t particularly cruel, but now this poor pooch must live in Hello Kitty hell, unable to lift its leg in public for fear of other dogs seeing the abominably cutesy cat face.

Tattooed Fish

Do fish have feelings? Hopes? Dreams? Would they approve of having hearts, spots and stripes tattooed onto them in garish pinks, greens and blues?

Who knows? Unless we find fish whisperers to talk to the little guys and ask them their opinion; tattooed fish will continue to be a lame fad for tasteless consumers.

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Imported from Singapore and Hong Kong, these tattooed mollies are making their way into fish tanks across the globe. The actual process of the inking is unclear. Some say the fish are sucked into a clear tube and then tattooed with a laser, other say the fish are tattooed in the traditional needle and ink method.

Do fish feel pain, or are they just a vegetable that moves? The ink is only scale deep, so it is debatable whether the fish are hurt in any way.

Tattooed Fish in Pet Shop Fish Tank

Tattooed Pigs

Yet more appalled shrieks from animal lovers, as Belgian tattoo artist Vim Delvoye decorates living pigs with permanent tattoos.

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Delvoye says, “I tattoo pigs because they grow fast and they are so much better to tattoo than fish. I tattoo them when they are young and I like the way the artwork stretches and distorts over time. Essentially, we invest in small tattoos and we harvest large paintings.”

See full interview here.

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The pigs live a peaceful lifestyle on an art farm in China, free to roam and forage for food. Previously destined for the slaughterhouse, these pigs have a full, happy life ahead of them in return for the tattoos on their skin, which are harvested after their death. The pigs are tattooed whilst sedated, and may not even be aware of their own markings.

Animal Rights groups wish to stop unnecessary cruelty towards animals. But is it really so cruel to trade a slaughterhouse death for a few tattoos and a tranquil life on a farm?

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User Comments
  1. Leo Reyes

    On July 21, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Great article on tattoos. Thanks for sharing

  2. neelam pandey

    On July 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    wow!!! very interesting…infact very cute ones.

  3. Andromeda

    On July 21, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Haha A Louis Vuitton tattoo even. I wonder if its a tradmark violation. =)

  4. stephljones

    On July 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    my dog has an identification tattoo…it was done at the animal shelter when we adopted her.

    I do not see how an asthetic tattoo is “cruel”, or even mildly inappropriate…the hello kitty is adorable, and it makes her owner happy, fine by me!

    seriously…if this is a problem for you, what would you suggest? Sending these poor animals to the pound?? I would think that an owner that would go to this trouble and expense loves their animal…and, I think my dog needs a little christmas tree…her name is Christmas Katie after all!!

  5. Anne Lyken-Garner

    On July 27, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I quite like the pictures. I won’t do it myself, but different folks…

  6. someone

    On August 12, 2008 at 6:17 am

    the animals have pain, stuppid people they are

  7. Melanie

    On January 18, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I can understand the identification tattoo, although you could just put a collar on the thing but there we are.

    Tattoos for the sake of ‘art’ on an animal are disgusting however.
    People have a choice, the animal does not. =/

  8. kizichat

    On July 31, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    my mouth is still open, i really dont know what to say. and THANK YOU for this imput.

  9. Monica

    On November 12, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    the reason it’s disgusting is a simple one…the do not have a say. Would you tattoo your infant child? Why would you have them suffer and put them through the pain? For your own selfish motivation?! That’s the whole issue with it all!

  10. chaz

    On November 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    dogs have much more pain getting their nutz cut off when neutered you PETA freaks! tattooing your pet insures that you will be able to recover it. a dog’s skin isn’t the same as a humans and some dogs don’t even feel a thing. my Kangal dog never even noticed it except to try to lick the Vaseline off. get a life animal “lover” freaks. animals feel pain getting vaccinations too and do we NOT give them shots because they “don’t have a choice?”. I have vaccines given to my children too and they don’t have a choice. And they have FINGERPRINTS so I don’t need to tattoo them ya noobs!

  11. monkeydoodle

    On December 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Tattooing is mildly painful and if unconscious then it is painless. anesthesia though is risky to any animal. A local injection of novacaine might be better. Though my dog is so full of the wiggles that she would end up with scribbles.

  12. monkeydoodle

    On December 5, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    In addition. What about those who have their infants ears pierced? Animal rIghts groups need to get their priorities straight. Focus on the neglected and truly cruel acts on animals. When that has been halted then we can throw a party. If the groups don’t focus nothing gets done.

  13. cherrio

    On January 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    People that do this kind of stuff are people with out souls, they do not care what happens to their pets, and i believe that if they are going to tatto their pets, they need to tatto their genitals and see how they like it, and if they do they’re sick, so don’t even call me sick!!!

  14. Bombshell

    On February 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Though the picture startled me at first because I am such a pig lover, I do not see how this is inhumane. I am pretty sure those who have tattooed their pets made sure that it did not harm them because most people see their pets as children and treat them just as that. So no need to grow gray hairs over the simple act of tattooing an animal, we should stick to real cases of abuse and neglect instead of pondering over harmless acts of quirky pet owners.

    ~ Bombshell ♥

  15. horselady

    On February 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    well i see the tattooing for id a better way than hot branding burning a design in so you know were it came from i know a tattoo will heal faster and is far less painful than red hot iron pushed into your skin but we can tattoo anywhere on a cow but the ears and nose a horse inner lip so for a dog or a cat getting a tattoo for id sounds like a good idea to me. the pigs i relay didn’t see a purpose for doing that? yea they get to live longer but how and why do they die? are they still slauterd? or old age? and as far as the branding goes i do freeze branding completly painless yet visible.

  16. AnimalNotebook

    On March 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Honestly i dont see what the cruelty is if its under anesthetic. If the animal doesnt feel pain then i guess its ok? I love animals and im really anti cruelty but i dont really see the cruelty if the animal doesnt feel pain. Correct me if im wrong thou..

    I also love art so i guess you could see my dilema.

  17. Jeremy

    On June 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    If you love your pet then I think you need to seriously consider what your about to do. Sure, tattoos aren’t as inhumane as a slaughterhouse death, but they ARE painful and the pet doesn’t exactly have a way to say “hey I don’t want this done to me.” If you inflict pain upon your pet no matter what your intentions are, your violating a trust that you and your animal share with one another, they give you %100 of their loyalty, love and affection unconditionally, and they won’t understand why you are causing them pain. For the sake of argument, I could see a small tattoo with a serial or identification number on it, but going any further than that is unnecessary and in some cases cruel.

    As a pet owner I love my animals and I would never intentionally harm them just to see them walking around with a pretty picture on their skin.

  18. sinbadthesailorman

    On July 12, 2010 at 3:32 am

    I live above a tattoo parlor and I beat it never even entered their minds to tattoo a fish Cool LOL I would most like eat a pig before I paid to have it Tattooed LOL I love it it is to useless and useful at the same exact time awesome. Donnie/Sinbad the Sailor Man

  19. Realist

    On August 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Let’s be honest…if an animal/pet is tattooed that probably means that someone is willing to pay good money to have it done, ergo, they most likely take good care of it. If it is being done under anesthesia and appropriate post-operative pain control is done, it is certainly not any worse than declawing, or ear cropping, or tail docking. Tattoos are not inside the abdomen as when a dog or cat is spayed…which I can tell you abdomenal surgeries are painful. You would not have your appendix removed while awake, yet humans have tattoos done all of the time fully awake….so….if pet tattooing is done humanely under anesthesia, pain should not be an issue.

    Let us also be honest about humans. We do things to other beings (human and animal) all of the time for ouir own advancement, need, or entertainment. I could write a book on this subject….so as far as the pet having no choice….yep…it is true. Sometimes life sucks. The pet also didn’t have a choice on who was going to buy it, if it was going to be altered or if it was going to have vaccinations. That is the lot in life of pets…however, they also never have to worry about finding food and if they want to sleep all day in their soft bed, that’s OK. LOL

  20. joyce

    On August 29, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    those pigs must think they’re soooo bad ass! One may even say, “I hope pot-belly Roger sees my tats… oh wait, he’s probably now being pooped by someone”

    PETA people, pigs didn’t also have a say whether they become fried porkchops or stewed.

  21. genevieve

    On October 21, 2010 at 6:03 am

    is it okay to tattoo a child without their consent even if under anaesthetic? we do it to animals because they can’t give their consent. it is never morally acceptable to use another’s body especially if they are incapable of given consent, even if no pain is involved. the pigs in the picture do not look like they are freely roaming.

    it is just the pinnacle of how we view animals as objects rather than persons with personalities.
    (no u don’t need to be human to have personhood or rights).

  22. Tatooed Pig

    On November 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Oh my God…. I’ve never seen anything like that before…
    I relly don’t like it, it’s stupid. Poor animals, they can’t do anything. If their owner want them taooed, they tatto them. Although it relly hurts!

  23. Kira

    On January 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Poor animals..

  24. stephanie

    On February 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I don’t see the issue of a tattoo under anesthesia. My dog was spayed and tattooed at the same time and it gives me piece of mind to know that if she gets lost and doesn’t have her tags or collar there is still hope of finding her. Tattooing them for vanity is kind of pointless but if they are under anesthesia then whatever. If you have a common breed then a small tattoo ob their belly can be the difference between finding them and never seeing them again. You people are far too close minded. The post op of a tattoo is 100% painless yet you will get your dog spayed or neutered which causes a week of pain or discomfort. But it is necessary, so why isn’t a way to save your dog from being lost necessary?

  25. Olivia Anne

    On March 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Very informative article, thanks for sharing. As for the controversial part of it: Tattooing a human baby and tattooing a pig are extraordinary different. The baby does have conscious thought and will grow to hate the mark inflicted upon him. He will also not be able to get as good a job in the future, if you look at the statistics. AND the type of parent that would tattoo a baby has more of a tendency to be a poor one.
    Now, what about the pig? The pig gets a tattoo, never has to think about it or see it, and then he gets to live his life out on a farm (a good point brought up in the article), treated like a king, instead of being sent to the chop shop.
    I just don’t think that comparing the tattooing of an infant and that of a pig is a sound argument.
    Human > Pig

  26. Pat

    On March 25, 2011 at 8:01 am

    For all the negative comments about “the animal does not have a say in the matter”, here’s some food for thought: I suppose you go to the vet with your pet … but does it have a say in THAT matter ?? Maybe it doesn’t want to be treated, maybe it just wants to die and you don’t let it … isn’t THAT just as cruel ???? How do you know? Maybe it even enjoys the tattoo …

  27. Pat

    On March 25, 2011 at 8:03 am

    PS: As a dog, I’d rather be tattooed than have my owner decide to cut my balls off … so that’s that.

  28. Ashley

    On March 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

    As long as the animals are not in pain, it’s a great idea!

  29. Mike

    On April 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Animals also dont get to choose who they live with, what they eat, when they get to go for walks, they dont really have a say in anything. Animals should be happy that they have a family who loves them and feeds them, tattoos or not.

  30. Gemma

    On July 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I cannot believe the comments being made on here. This is so wrong is every sense and people do not see that. These poor animals are being put in unneccessary pain for the sake of their owners having a bit of fun with the tattoo gun. Personally i do not agree with the dog being tattooed but at least it was under anesetic. However for the pigs, there is no way the owner would put them to sleep for it, it is not as if the owner cares about them if they are cooped up in a little barn waiting to be killed for food. They would have been put in alot of pain and it is sick to see so many of you think that it is okay. All animal cruelty needs to stop. Its not about being an animal loving freak, It is just common sense that you dnt hurt animals. They breathe, have feelings and feel pain just like us but worst of all they cannot speak for them selves.

  31. Gemma

    On July 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Also China is one of the highest rates of animal cruelty so this explains alot that they are from China. These people have no heart and are so sick. They deserve to be tortured for what alot of them do to innocent animals. I am so appauled by the things animals are put through!

  32. anon

    On July 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    “The pigs are tattooed whilst sedated, and may not even be aware of their own markings.”

    Pigs are very smart. At least as smart as dogs and cats for sure. They may like the markings. The little pig at the end says one thing to me “I’m swaggin”

  33. chabba

    On August 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Shouldnt tattoo animals ..end of. Tattoo for identification was acceptable however you can microchip pets now. Why tattoo pigs and fish for what use is that, stupid people should be locked up and I hope this is illegal!!

  34. shania

    On August 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    lolzzzzzzzzzzzzzz tatoo are not for animals and people should also be aware of the tatoos they on their skin take this for a 12 year old girl litarally

  35. maze

    On August 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii am form maze and lolzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz but animals shud nmot hve tatoos on their skin

  36. Alice

    On August 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Very interesting article, but WHY ON EARTH THEY DO THAT?? I bet that none of those people have any tattoos on their body.I have lots actually and I’m pretty sure that my mini pin does not want one!

  37. RC

    On October 21, 2011 at 1:02 am

    You PETA freaks should shove it. Have you ever had a tattoo? It only feels like someone is giving you an indian burn while they do it (especially if it isn’t over a bone or nerve cluster). When it’s over it feels like a mild sunburn. The worst part is an itch, and don’t most animals have flees? Go visit the slaughterhouse that produces McDonald’s sandwich patties.

  38. Get Over It

    On November 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    It’s seems like all the animal rights activists are missing the fact that these animals are under ANESTHESIA!!!!

  39. will

    On November 15, 2011 at 6:19 am

    After working as a vet tech I learned about these common practices considered humane and are legal in the U.S.

    Ear docking (cutting of cartilage, * AESTHETICS*)
    Tail docking (cutting of ligaments and cartilage, * AESTHETICS*)
    Declawing (cutting of the tips of fingers, ligaments and cartilage, * AESTHETICS*)
    Removing of vocal cords (ripped out while semi-conscious due to high-risk surgery and effectiveness, * AESTHETICS*)
    Mass euthanization i.e. gas chambers (hallucinations, seizures, bang heads on floors/walls, fights, *CHEAPER*)
    Teeth cleaning (the most painful and routine procedure, *HEALTH*)

    Before you lash out at tattooing animals, a mere epidermal abrasion done under anesthesia, compare it to the list above, where the majority of owners in the U.S. have done 4 of these procedures. Many animals that came in had skin conditions worse than what a tattoo would be from neglect; rotting and infected toe nails, ear infections, tooth rot and decay, ALL purely from neglect. Tattooing animals would be trivial to any of these procedures. Also do not try to inject your Pathos morality in this argument, as animals are not self-aware.

  40. kat

    On March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Wow! how is this funny or cute? The animals have no control over it! Have someone tattoo you while you’re sleeping and let me know if any of you like it. Disgusting how people are okay with animal abuse, because that is what this is called!

  41. Carms

    On March 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Tattoos on pigs?! This is ridiculous. I am shocked at how low some people stoop. Bunch of dirtbags.

  42. LauraR

    On May 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I am sicked by the STUPIDITY of people who think that doing this is ok for ANY REASON! For identification purposes, buy a collar AND a chip and that way they are recognized! Don’t treat them like a jew in a concentration camp!
    As for art??? Are these people who think it’s “cute” or “funny” or “ok” off the flippin’ rockers?!?! I have tattoos but the difference is I CHOOSE to get them! What pig or dog expresses interest in having a frikkin’ tattoo?!
    For the people who “want” to tattoo their animal…TAKE A STEP BACK OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND GIVE YOUR EGO A WELL NEEDED SLAP IN THE FACE! I hope you NEVER have the priviledge to care for such innocence!

  43. tiffielou

    On May 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    It\’s completely unnecessary. My dog has an i.d. chip. If he gets lost, it works like fingerprints, we can find him, and it didn\’t require him to be put under. If you like the art so much, get the tat on yourself, chances are your pet thinks you\’re an f#$5ing moron!

  44. Jennifer

    On February 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    We got roxanne from a vet and he tattoos all his dogs that are in his home but I guess he didn’t want Roxanne and put her in his kennel for a month my family loves Roxanne but I am very shock that people specially a would tattoo a dog let a lone let her live with him and his children for a year and decided to get rid of her that a piece of shit

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