Dog Symbolism – Spiritual Meaning and Totem Animal

Dogs have been by our side for tens of thousands of years, and their symbolism is rich with meaning. Dogs are symbols of loyalty, protection, and faithfulness. They are often portrayed in art as loyal companions and trusted protectors. In this article, we will explore the spiritual meaning and totem animal of the dog. We will also discuss how dogs have played an important role in art history. If you are a fan of dogs, or if one has crossed your path recently, be sure to read on!

What do Dogs Symbolize?

Dogs have long been a symbol of loyalty, friendship, and protection in many cultures. This symbolism is reflected in the various expressions and meanings attributed to them. For example, the phrase “a dog is a man’s best friend” is often used to describe the strong bond between humans and their canine companions.

Dogs are integral symbols of guidance, protection, and unconditional love in the spiritual realm. Dogs symbolize many positive qualities, such as loyalty, faithfulness, courage, and devotion.

They have also come to represent protection and watchfulness over the home. In some cultures, dogs are even seen as messengers or guides from beyond, delivering news of wisdom and insight about our daily lives.

Dog Symbolism in Various Breeds

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is an iconic breed that’s generally associated with loyalty, courage, and intelligence. These characteristics are often attributed to the breed because of its history as a guard dog.

They were first bred in Germany in 1899 for their ability to protect livestock and act as guard dogs. German Shepherds have since become popular family pets due to their friendly nature and loyalty.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is another beloved breed that’s often seen as an embodiment of love and affection. This breed was first bred in Scotland in the 19th century, specifically to be a retriever of game birds.

They were bred with patience and intelligence in mind, which makes them ideal family pets today. They’re known for their willingness to please, making them a great pet for those who seek companionship.


The Poodle is also a popular breed that’s often seen as a symbol of luxury and wealth.

This breed was first developed in Germany as a water retriever and has since become one of the most recognizable breeds worldwide.

Despite its glamorous reputation, the Poodle is an incredibly smart breed with a high degree of intelligence. They’re also known for their friendly and loyal temperament, making them great family pets.


The Bulldog is an iconic breed that’s often seen as a symbol of strength and determination. This breed was originally used in England for bull-baiting, but it eventually found its way into households as a beloved pet. Bulldogs are known for their courageous and independent nature, making them ideal guard dogs. They are also very loyal to their owners and make devoted companions.

Each of these breeds has its own unique symbolism, but they all have one thing in common: they are beloved family pets. Whether you choose a German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Poodle, or Bulldog, it will bring joy and companionship into your life.

Dog Spirit Animal?

The spirit animal of a dog is often associated with loyalty, protection, and guidance. Dogs are not only loyal companions but also offer comfort and support in times of need.

The spirit animal of the canine symbolizes trustworthiness, independence, and strength.

It can serve as a reminder to stay true to yourself and your values in life.

The spirit of the dog is also known for being courageous and resilient even when faced with difficult events or situations.

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It encourages us to be independent thinkers and stand up for what we believe in.

Furthermore, the spirit animal of a dog can provide spiritual guidance and help guide us through our journey in life.

what does it mean when you see a dog

When we encounter difficulties or uncertainties, having a strong connection with our inner power will give us renewed courage and strength to make it through.

The spirit animal of the dog can remind us that we are never alone and that we have an internal source of strength and support. By connecting with the power of our spirit animal, we will find a balanced path to success.

Dog Facts

  • Dogs have sweat glands on their paws.
  • Dogs can see in the dark.
  • Dogs can hear higher-pitched sounds than humans.
  • A dog’s sense of smell is ten thousand times better than a human’s.
  • Dogs have the ability to recognize human emotions.
  • When a dog wags its tail, it can signal that it is feeling happy or excited.
  • Dogs are able to learn over 200 words and signals, including hand gestures.
  • Dogs have three eyelids on each eye which helps protect their eyes from dirt and debris.
  • The average life expectancy of a dog is around 10-13 years, depending on the breed.
  • Some breeds of dogs are bred for specific tasks such as herding livestock, hunting prey, or providing protection for families. It is important to research the breed of dog you are interested in before getting one.
  • Dogs have evolved over time to become more specialized and adapted for specific tasks, such as hunting or retrieving objects.
  • Dogs can be trained to help with a variety of tasks, from providing emotional support to assisting people with disabilities or performing search and rescue operations.

What Do Dog Symbolize in Arts and Literature?

In art and literature, dogs often symbolize qualities such as loyalty, protection, trustworthiness, and friendship. Dogs have been featured in famous works of literature since ancient times.

dog with book

In Homer’s Odyssey, for example, Odysseus’ faithful dog Argos is the first to recognize him when he returns from his travels.

In many cultures, dogs are seen as guardians or protectors of the home. In stories such as Beauty and the Beast, a magical dog protects the castle and its inhabitants from harm. In works such as The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, a large, fierce dog is depicted as a guardian against evil forces.

Dogs can also be symbols of loyalty. Fictional characters such as Argos in Homer’s Odyssey and Old Yeller in Fred Gipson’s novel show great devotion to their owners even when faced with death.

Dogs in literature often represent companionship and unconditional love; Brer Rabbit’s old red hound in Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories is an example of this.

In visual art, dogs are often used to convey emotions such as joy and contentment.

Dog Power Animal

The Dog Power Animal is a powerful symbol of loyalty, protection, and love. Dogs are often seen as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms, providing guidance to us through their connection to both worlds.

In many cultures, dogs are seen as symbols of commitment; they are faithful companions who will always be there for us.

Dog Spirit and Totem Animal

The Dog spirit animal is known for loyalty, protection, and guardianship. It symbolizes a deep connection with your intuition and inspires you to use your natural instincts in decision-making.

dog totem meaning

If a Dog has appeared in your life, it may ask you to pay attention more closely to the people around you, particularly those who offer their help or support.

The Dog spirit animal can also remind you to be loyal to yourself and stay true to your convictions. If you have been feeling like you need more protection, call upon the power of Dog medicine to help provide it.

When this totem appears, it may be asking you to look closely at how your past experiences shape who you are today

Dog Dream Meanings

Dreaming about dogs can be interpreted in various ways, but the core symbolism remains the same – a faithful companion and loyal friend.

sleeping dog dreaming

Generally speaking, dreaming of a dog is viewed as a symbol of protection and unconditional love. It may suggest that you are feeling supported and secure in your waking life. Alternatively, it could reflect an inner need for security and loyalty.

The presence of a dog in your dream may also be associated with certain aspects of yourself. If the dog is friendly, then it could represent the nurturing aspect of your personality.

It can also reflect how trusting you are. If the dog is aggressive or barking, then it may suggest that someone or something is threatening your security or undermining your trust in someone.

The color of the dog might also offer additional insight into the meaning of your dream – white usually symbolizes purity while black often suggests unhappiness, sorrow, and even death.

Dog Meaning in Tarot

The Dog Tarot Card carries the symbolism of loyalty, trustworthiness, faithfulness and friendship. The card usually appears when there is a need for someone to rely on an outside source of support or guidance in order to move forward with their life.

dog tarot cards

This could be in the form of a mentor, friend, family member or even a pet. The Dog Tarot Card often points to a reliance on the animal companion, which teaches us how unconditional love and understanding can be found in even the most mundane of relationships.

The Dog is also associated with protection and vigilance in some Tarot decks. It advises that we pay attention to our surroundings as they can reveal important clues or details that will help us move forward.

This Tarot card also encourages us to trust our instincts and stay alert for any signs that can give us a better understanding of our current situation.

Dog Mythology and Folklore

In many cultures around the world, dogs are featured prominently in folklore and mythology.

Dog Meaning in the Bible And Christianity

Dogs have long been seen as divine messengers in many cultures and religions. In Christianity, dogs are often associated with loyalty and protection. They are seen as symbols of faithfulness, obedience, and unconditional love.

In the Bible, dogs can often be found in stories about God’s love and mercy. For example, in the story of Noah’s Ark, God sends a dove to Noah as a sign that the flood waters have receded.

dog painting

This is seen as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and protection even during times of difficulty.

The image of dogs can also be found in other passages of Scripture. In the Book of Proverbs, there is a warning against being too trusting: “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). This passage serves as an important reminder that we should be mindful of our decisions and not repeat mistakes or foolish behavior.

In the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly uses the image of a dog to describe how we should approach our faith. He tells us to “Be like a dog who returns to its master” (Luke 15:4). In this passage, Jesus is encouraging us to remain obedient and loyal to God no matter what may come our way.

The Bible also uses the image of a dog to remind us how powerful God’s love and mercy is. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27).

This passage serves as an important reminder that even those who are on the margins of society can receive God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Overall, dogs have an important place in Christian theology and spirituality. They represent faithfulness, obedience, and unconditional love—all qualities that should be emulated by believers of all denominations.

Dog Mythology and Symbolism in different cultures

In many ancient cultures, dogs were seen as symbols of loyalty, protection, and guidance. In some cultures, they were even worshipped as gods.

Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians believed that a dog-headed god called Anubis guarded the gates of the underworld and guided souls to the afterlife.

Ancient Egypt style dog

Dogs were highly valued in Ancient Egypt, where they were seen as guardians of both people and property and loyal companions for their human friends.

Dogs were often featured in art, literature, and religious ceremonies. In fact, the Ancient Egyptians even mummified their beloved canine companions for burial.

Dogs were a symbol of loyalty, protection, and faithfulness in Ancient Egypt, qualities that were highly valued by the people of the time and associated with deities such as Anubis.

They were also seen as protectors against evil spirits and were used as hunting dogs and guard dogs. In ancient hieroglyphs, the image of a dog was often used to signify loyalty, protection, and friendship.


Dogs have played an important role in Slavic cultures for centuries. In Eastern European countries, dogs are seen as symbols of loyalty and protection.

They are often thought to bring good luck and fortune to their owners. In some parts of Ukraine, it’s believed that a dog will save its owner from harm if it finds him or her in danger. In some parts of Poland, dogs are seen as symbols of fidelity and courage.

In many Slavic cultures, dogs have been used to protect livestock from predators such as wolves and bears. They were also used for hunting game and tracking lost animals.

Dogs were often viewed as loyal companions that could provide security and comfort in times of need.


Dogs have long been a part of Mesopotamian culture and history. They were revered as symbols of loyalty, strength, and protection. Dogs also served an important role in the religious life of Mesopotamia – representing gods such as Anubis, who was associated with death and the underworld.

Mesopotamian style dog

In many ancient Mesopotamian texts, dogs were seen as messengers, guides, and protectors. They were also believed to be able to detect evil spirits and ward them off.

Dogs were important in Mesopotamian hunting culture, too. In some cases, their bark was used as a signal for when an animal had been caught in a net or trap.

The Sumerians even had a goddess of hunting, named Ninisina, who was often associated with dogs. Dogs were also seen in Mesopotamia as symbols of loyalty and love.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the main characters bond over their shared love for their loyal dog companion, Enkidu. Dogs were often buried alongside humans in order to protect them in the afterlife. In this way, dogs were seen as a connection between life and death.


In Babylonia, dogs were incredibly revered and had strong spiritual symbolism. Dogs symbolized strength and unwavering devotion; they were often seen as guardians and protectors.

Babylonian style dog

This is why a dog was one of the main symbols of the goddess Gula, who represented healing and protection in the Babylonian culture. In other cases, dogs were seen as messengers, connecting the human realm with that of the gods.

In Babylonia, dogs were also seen as symbols of loyalty and fidelity. In many cases, they were used to represent marriage vows and sacred pledges between families or communities.

Dogs also symbolized obedience and faithfulness; they were often associated with being faithful to their masters and following them loyally in life. This is why dogs were often used in religious ceremonies, as symbols of dedication and obedience to the gods.

In addition to their symbolic meaning, dogs also had an important practical purpose in Babylonia. They were used as guard and hunting animals, protecting flocks from predators. They were also used as pack animals, helping to carry goods from one city to another.


In Assyrian culture, the dog was associated with guarding and hunting. In particular, it was believed that dogs were able to ward off evil spirits and were guardians of the home and family.

Assyrian style dog

Dogs were also seen as symbols of loyalty and companionship, representing a deep connection with their owners. In general, dogs were viewed as protectors and symbols of strength, courage, and fidelity.

They were often depicted in artworks, sculptures, and pottery from this time period as serving important roles in Assyrian daily life. As such, dogs held a special place in Assyrians’ hearts and were often treated with respect and affection.

Greek and Roman

Dogs were also held in high esteem by the Romans. For example, they were used to symbolize vigilance. Wolves were a common motif on Roman coins and standards, suggesting that dogs served as guardians of the Empire.

Roman style dog

Dogs could also be seen guarding tombs and temples, which demonstrates their association with protection and loyalty. In addition to being associated with protection, dogs were also symbols of courage, loyalty and faithfulness.

The story of Laelaps, a dog that could never fail to catch its quarry, was popular during the Roman era, showing how deeply they valued these traits in their canine companions.

In general, dogs were seen as loyal protectors who put the safety and well-being of their families above all else. This is why dogs were often used in sculptures and tapestries to represent loyalty and protection in ancient Rome.

In both Greek and Roman culture, dogs had many positive connotations that made them much-loved companions throughout the ages. They were loyal guardians, courageous protectors, and symbols of faithfulness.


Dogs have always played an important role in Celtic culture and history, with both their physical and spiritual presence being deeply revered by the Celts.

Celtic style dog

They were seen as loyal protectors of the home, having supernatural powers to ward off evil spirits, bless new marriages and guard against misfortune.

In Celtic mythology, dogs are closely associated with the goddess Morrigan, who is often depicted with two or three black dogs. Dogs were also said to accompany warriors to the afterlife, ensuring their safe passage and guarding against death.

In some Celtic legends, dogs are even portrayed as magicians capable of shape-shifting into human form when necessary.

Native American

In many Native American cultures, the dog is seen as a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness.The Coyote spirit in particular is often associated with bringing balance to the natural world and helping humans live in harmony with nature.

In some tribes, such as the Navajo, dogs were also believed to act as messengers between the physical and spiritual realms, allowing humans to communicate with their ancestors and the spirits of nature.

Dogs were also thought to be protectors, keeping watch over a tribe’s village or protecting them during long journeys.In some tribes, dogs were also seen as symbols of strength and courage, representing the traits that each member of the community hoped to strive for in life.


In Navajo culture, dogs embody a strong sense of protection and loyalty. They are viewed as guardians that stand upon four sacred mountains to protect the people of the tribe.

In many stories, they are seen to possess special powers, where even in death their spirit remains with the people. The image of a dog is often used in sandpaintings to represent the guardian’s spirit.

Navajo style dog

Dogs also play an important role in ceremonies, such as healing or blessing rituals. They can be used as a symbol of strength and courage, and are believed to have spiritual powers to bring luck and fortune to their owners.

Dogs are seen as messengers between the people and the gods, bringing warnings about danger or guiding the tribe to safety.

The unconditional love and loyalty of a dog to its master is highly valued in Navajo culture and tradition, making them an important part of the tribe’s spiritual life.


In Maya culture, dogs were not only used as loyal and loving companions, but also held significant symbolic meaning.

Mayan style dog statue

Dogs often represented loyalty and protection in Mayan art and literature, as they were believed to be the protectors of travelers and warriors.

They were also associated with death, rebirth, and the afterlife due to their close relationship with humans and their ability to travel between the physical and spiritual realms.

Dogs also served as food sources in many areas of Mesoamerica, though there is evidence that Mayans did not often eat them in certain regions. Dogs were incredibly important to the Maya culture, and their presence can still be felt today.


Dogs are deeply embedded in the culture and identity of Australians. They are seen as loyal, affectionate, and playful companions who bring joy to our lives.

In many Aboriginal cultures, dogs were a source of protection and often held sacred meanings. For example, the dingo is seen as a symbol of strength and courage, while other dogs are seen as symbols of loyalty and friendship.

Dogs are often used in Indigenous artwork, representing the close relationship between humans and animals.

In Australian culture, dogs hold a very important place in our lives. They provide us with companionship, comfort and security, which can bring us joy on a daily basis.


In Polynesia, dogs were a spiritual symbol of strength and courage. They were seen as symbols of protection and loyalty to their owners, which was reflected in their names or titles such as “guardian” or “protector”. Furthermore, they were associated with wealth and prosperity due to their ability to hunt for food.

dog at beach

Some Polynesian cultures even believed that when a dog died, it would journey to the underworld and protect its owner from evil spirits.

This strong spiritual connection was also reflected in their burial customs – dogs were often buried with offerings such as food or weapons in order to ensure they could take these items into the afterlife.


Dogs are considered loyal, obedient and protective in Japan. This is why they have long been regarded as a symbol of guardianship and fidelity. In the Shinto religion, dogs are associated with Kami (gods), and sometimes even venerated as gods themselves.

Dogs were also believed to protect from evil spirits, particularly the fierce dog-headed Oni. Additionally, the Akita breed is linked to Hachiko, a famous story of loyalty and dedication.

The loyal canine waited for his master at the Shibuya Train Station every day for nine years until his death, symbolizing unwavering devotion and unconditional love.

This story has since become a cultural icon in Japan, with the Akita breed being a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness throughout the country.

The dog is also an important figure in many traditional festivals in Japan, such as Shibasetsu no Gyoji or “Dogs’ Day,” which celebrates the beauty of dogs.

japanese akita

Dogs are also seen as a symbol of family unity, with some families having multiple generations of dogs that represent the bond and continuity of the family. Thus, dogs in Japan are seen as more than just pets- they symbolize loyalty, strength, protection, and unity.

In modern times, there is a growing appreciation for dogs in Japan.

Dog cafes have become increasingly popular in larger cities across the country and animal shelters offer assistance in finding homes for stray and abandoned dogs. As such, dogs are a beloved part of the Japanese culture, both historically and presently.


In Chinese culture, dogs are regarded as symbols of loyalty and protection. People often give gifts featuring a dog to symbolize friendship and good luck.

Dogs are also seen as a sign of courage and determination, making them an important part of traditional Chinese folklore.

Chinese style dog figure

The importance of the dog in Chinese culture is reflected in many festivals, such as the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated with a parade of dog-shaped lanterns.

Dogs are also seen as guardians of the afterlife and protectors from evil spirits in many parts of China.

In Taoism, dogs have a special place as they represent reincarnation and immortality. Many temples feature statues of fierce dogs to ward off evil spirits.

In some Chinese cultures, there is a belief that dogs can communicate with the spirit world, so they are often used as messengers between this realm and the living.

The significance of dogs in China is also reflected in popular art and literature. The famous novel “Dream of the Red Chamber” features a loyal dog who plays an important role in the story. Dogs also frequently appear in Chinese paintings, symbols of family loyalty and friendship.


In Hinduism, dogs represent loyalty, faithfulness and companionship. Dogs appear in many Hindu stories and myths as loyal guardians or messengers of the gods.

Hinduism style dog

It is believed that a dog’s bark can ward off evil spirits. In fact, Hindus often keep dogs in their homes to protect them from harm.

The god Bhairava, the fierce form of Shiva, is often depicted riding on a dog or accompanied by one. In some stories and paintings, Bhairava is even seen embracing a dog. This symbolizes his compassionate nature and understanding that all creatures are part of one divine cosmic energy.

In Hinduism, dogs also represent unconditional love and devotion. The god of love and devotion, Krishna, is often portrayed playing with a pet dog. His friendship with dogs reflects the unconditional bond between humans and animals that Hindus strive to cultivate in their own lives.

In addition to being symbols of loyalty and devotion, dogs have also been associated with death in Hinduism. The god Yama, who presides over death, is often depicted with a dog at his side.

This symbolizes the idea that death, like a loyal dog, is always by our side and that death is an unavoidable part of life that should be accepted without fear or anxiety.


The image of the dog is commonly seen throughout Buddhist artwork and as part of religious ceremonies. It symbolizes loyalty, faithfulness, and protection.

The idea of a loyal companion helping along the path to enlightenment has long been associated with Buddhism.

Buddhism dog statue

The image of a dog can also represent the negative qualities that one must overcome in order to reach spiritual enlightenment. In the Mahayana tradition, a dog is often seen as an example of steadfastness and purity, but also of ignorance and delusion.

Dogs provide protection from the dangers of this world, yet can also be a source of temptation or distraction if one is too attached to them.

They are both teacher and student on the journey for enlightenment. In some Buddhist cultures, the dog is seen as a guardian of the Dharma, helping humans to stay on the path of righteousness.

In others, it serves as a messenger for deities and bodhisattvas or even acts as their vehicle. The image of a dog can be used to remind followers that one must remain loyal and steadfast in order to reach their ultimate goal. The symbolism of the dog in Buddhism is an important part of its spiritual teachings and provides guidance on how to live a life of compassion, understanding, and enlightenment.

The presence of a loyal canine companion has been known to bring comfort and joy to those who are on the spiritual path.

Conclusion – Dog Symbolism and Meaning

The symbolism of the dog is complex and has a variety of meanings in different cultures, but all agree that dogs represent loyalty, protection, friendship, and a connection to the spiritual world.

Dogs have long been companions to humans and are seen as symbols of unconditional love. In Hinduism and Buddhism they serve as teachers on the path to enlightenment, while in Chinese culture, they represent loyalty and friendship.

No matter what culture one looks to, dogs are seen as loyal guardians and a source of comfort, joy, and protection.

By understanding the different meanings of the dog in various cultures, we can appreciate its universal appeal and use it as an example for how we should treat each other with love and respect.

Whether you consider yourself spiritual or not, having a loyal canine companion to be your faithful friend and protector will always bring comfort and joy into your life.

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Christina Johnson

About the Author

My name is Christina, and I am the founder of centerspirited. Being a physiotherapist for several years I have found that many people, including myself, don’t achieve well-being only from a physical point of view. I’ve always viewed a person’s body, soul, and emotions as a whole construct of beauty. Always being a yoga enthusiast, I finally became an instructor myself. On a secret mission to capture spirituality in all of her beautiful shapes, I found myself being guided on a way through ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. Through this platform, I will hopefully be able to help other beautiful souls out there find their inner peace and bond with their spiritual selves.

Discover simple steps to unlock inner peace and live a life aligned with your true self.
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