Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs Traits, Elements and Characteristics

Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and the Chinese calendar. According to Chinese astrology, people's fates and birth signs can be determined by the position of the major planets at their time of birth. The system of the twelve-year cycle of animal signs was created from observations of the orbit of the planet Jupiter. Following the orbit of Jupiter around the Sun, Chinese astronomers eventually divided the celestial circle into exactly twelve sections and rounded it to twelve years. This repeating cycle of twelve years where each year is represented by a particular animal is known as the Chinese zodiac or sheng xiao. The twelve animals of the zodiac are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep/Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

The Chinese zodiac is an important component of China's ancient culture and as such it has been long recognized and accepted by Chinese people. According to astrology, everyone has its own animal sign that affects their behavior, character, and their destiny. Each of these animal signs belongs to one of the five Chinese zodiac elements and has unique personality traits, so the Chinese people predict people's relationship compatibility and more based on their sign. The animal year when an individual is born is called his or her Ben Ming Nian, which means Zodiac year of birth. Unlike Western astrology, the Chinese zodiac does not look at the heavenly constellations or planets to predict someone's destiny. Instead, Chinese astrology deals with the Wu Xing or the five elements of the zodiac [Earth (Tu), Fire (Huo), Water (Shui), Metal (Jin), Wood (Mu)], Yin and Yang, Chi, and the cycles of time.

How old is the Chinese zodiac?

No one knows the exact date as of when the Chinese zodiac was originally created, but the Chinese zodiac signs and dates were officially identified during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), which was over 2000 years ago. There are many stories, legends and myths regarding the beginning of the zodiac, horoscope dates and the order of the animal signs. According to the most popular legend, the order of the twelve animals is closely related to the story about how these particular animals were summoned to heaven by the Jade Emperor who ruled Heaven and Earth.

Chinese Zodiac Compatibility

When it comes to Chinese zodiac compatibility, the zodiac offers guidance for relationships for each and every sign. According to Chinese astrology, the animal signs that are four years apart from each other are believed to be most compatible. If they are six years apart, however, it is believed that they are incompatible. Even today, there are millions of Chinese people who believe in the Chinese astrology compatibility charts, with some even creating relationships according to the Chinese Horoscope. For example, some people find their soul mates or their friends by looking for people with the zodiac symbols they are most compatible with.

What Is Your Chinese Zodiac Animal Sign?

Not sure what your Chinese zodiac sign is? You can easily determine your zodiac animal sign by referring to the year you were born and simply matching it up with the corresponding animal. Use this Chinese zodiac sign calculator and determine which zodiac animal you are.

Years Corresponding to Chinese Zodiac Animal Signs:

Rat: 1900 1912 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008 2020
Ox: 1901 1913 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009 2021
Tiger: 1902 1914 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010 2022
Rabbit: 1903 1915 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011 2023
Dragon: 1904 1916 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012 2024
Snake: 1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013 2025
Horse: 1906 1918 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014 2026
Sheep/Goat: 1907 1919 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015 2027
Monkey: 1908 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016 2028
Rooster: 1909 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017 2029
Dog: 1910 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018 2030
Pig/Boar: 1911 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019 2031

Chinese Zodiac Sign Meanings

Each animal sign has a symbolic meaning given to it by the ancient Chinese people. Their attributes come in six contrasting pairs that must be harmonized, like yin and yang. Below are the twelve Chinese zodiac signs and dates, so find your sign and discover your unique characteristics, the element that influences your sign, your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your most compatible signs.

Rat

Chinese zodiac Rat

Element: Water (Shui)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Zi
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 2, 3
Lucky Colors: Blue, golden, green
Characteristics: Intelligent, quick-witted, ambitious, charming, sociable, timid, stubborn
Most Compatible Signs: Ox, Rabbit and Dragon

The first animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Rat, represents wisdom. People born in the year of the Rat are smart, quick-witted, ambitious, charming and sociable. However, the Rats can also be very stubborn, timid, greedy and too eager for power. These people are instinctive and alert by nature which makes them great businessmen. The Rats are sociable, charming and very adaptable, so they're usually very popular.

The best matches for the Chinese Zodiac Rat are the Ox, the Rabbit, and the Dragon, while some of its worst matches are the Horse and the Rooster.

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Ox

Chinese zodiac Ox

Element: Earth (Tu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Chou
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 1, 4
Lucky Colors: White, yellow, green
Characteristics: Reliable, loyal, reasonable, determined, strong
Most Compatible Signs: Rat, Snake and Rooster

The Ox is the second sign of the Chinese zodiac and the symbol of diligence in Chinese culture. Those born under the sign of the Ox are very reliable, determined, hard working, ambitious and patient. They are straight forward people and natural born leaders, due to their strong devotion to work. On the negative side, these people can be prejudiced, really stubborn, narrow-minded and indifferent.

The most compatible signs for the Chinese Zodiac Ox are the Rat, the Snake, and the Rooster. These signs are also responsible and loyal like the Ox, which makes them very compatible. Some of the worst matches for the Ox are the Tiger, the Horse, the Dragon and the Sheep.

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Tiger

Chinese zodiac Tiger

Element: Wood (Mu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Yin
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 1, 3, 4
Lucky Colors: Blue, gray, orange, white
Characteristics: Ambitious, brave, enthusiastic, confident, charismatic
Most Compatible Signs: Horse, Dog and Pig

The Tiger is the third animal sign in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes courage. People born in the year of the Tiger are usually very brave, competitive, friendly, confident and charming. They are endowed with qualities of good luck, fortune, and authority and can be excellent leaders. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac Tiger also like to show off when they accomplish something huge and important. On the other side, Tigers are likely to be very unpredictable, impetuous, overindulged, arrogant and irritable.

The best matches for the Tiger are the Horse, the Dog, and the Pig. These signs are compatible because they are all ambitious and can encourage and help each other. The least compatible signs for the Tiger are the Ox, the Snake, and the Monkey.

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Rabbit

Chinese zodiac Rabbit

Element: Wood (Mu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Mao
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 6
Lucky Colors: Red, pink, purple, blue
Characteristics: Empathic, trustworthy, diplomatic, sociable, sincere, sensitive, modest
Most Compatible Signs: Sheep, Monkey and Pig

Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese zodiac that represents longevity and good luck in Chinese culture. Those born under the sign of Rabbit are modest, sensitive, kind-hearted, trustworthy, gentle and very cautious. They are not aggressive and dislike fighting, so they always try to find a solution to their problems trough compromise and negotiation. The reserved Rabbits are very smart, intuitive and in touch with nature. On the negative side, these individuals have a tendency to be very stubborn, melancholy, overly-discreet and superficial.

When it comes to love, the most compatible signs for people born under the Chinese Zodiac Rabbit are the Sheep, the Pig, the Monkey and the Dog. These signs are romantic as the Rabbit and they know how to make compromises to make their relationship work. The Snake and the Rooster are the worst matches for the Rabbit.

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Dragon

Chinese zodiac Dragon

Element: Earth (Tu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Chen
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 1, 6, 7
Lucky Colors: Gold, silver, grayish white
Characteristics: Eccentric, imaginative, spiritual, artistic, flexible, lucky, kind-hearted
Most Compatible Signs: Rat, Tiger and Monkey

As the symbol of the Chinese nation, the Dragon is a zodiac sign that enjoys a high reputation in Chinese culture. The Dragon is the fifth animal of the Chinese zodiac and it is the symbol of authority, success, honor and luck. People born under the sign of Dragon are very innovative, successful, brave, kind-hearted and intelligent. They are sincere, lively, overly confident and they hate gossip and hypocrisy. However, these people also tend to be eccentric, tactless, quick-tempered and intolerant of the opinions of others. Dragons have strong personalities and they always stand true to their own beliefs.

Best matches for the powerful Dragon are the Rat, the Tiger, the Monkey and the Snake. Bad matches for the Chinese Zodiac Dragon include the Ox, the Sheep, and the Dog. These signs are not compatible simply because they cannot tolerate each other's flaws and always put themselves first.

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Snake

Chinese zodiac Snake

Element: Fire (Huo)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Si
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 2, 8, 9
Lucky Colors: Black, red, and yellow
Characteristics: Intelligent, intuitive, attentive, organized, decisive, philosophical
Most Compatible Signs: Dragon and Rooster

Snake is the sixth animal of the Chinese zodiac and this sign carries the meanings of malevolence and mystery. People born in the year of the Chinese Zodiac Snake are usually very wise, agile, attractive and discreet. On the other hand, they can be really greedy, arrogant and lazy. While many people consider the snake to be a cunning and sly animal, the snake is also the symbol of wisdom and wit in some cultures. These people are born organizers and know how to use their talents of intuition and discretion.

When it comes to romantic relationships, the lovely and charming Snake is most compatible with the Dragon and the Rooster. Some of the worst matches for the Snake people are the signs of Tiger, Rabbit, Sheep and Pig. These are all very silent and skeptical signs, so when a misunderstanding occurs, their lack of communication and their doubtful behavior will lead to even more conflicts in the relationship.

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Horse

Chinese zodiac Horse

Element: Fire (Huo)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Wu
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 2, 3, 7
Lucky Colors: Yellow, brown, purple, red
Characteristics: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, strong
Most Compatible Signs: Tiger, Sheep and Rabbit

The Horse is the seventh sign in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the year of the Horse are energetic, enthusiastic, independent and diligent. Most people born under this sign have nice personalities – they are very kind-hearted, warm, easygoing, upright and have a great sense of humor. That's why they usually have a lot of friends flocking around them. However, people born under sign can be very impatient and stubborn at times. Horses insist that life revolves around them. They are passionate and powerful individuals who can work extremely hard in order to achieve success.

Some of the most compatible signs for the Chinese Zodiac Horse are the Tiger, the Sheep, and the Rabbit, because they share a lot of things in common. The Horse needs to avoid the Rat, the Rooster, and the Ox, as they cannot understand or support each other.

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Sheep/Goat

Chinese zodiac Sheep/Goat

Element: Earth (Tu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Wei
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 2, 7
Lucky Colors: Red, purple, green
Characteristics: Gentle, warm, calm, hardworking, sensitive, persistent, moody, pessimistic, timid
Most Compatible Signs: Rabbit, Pig and Horse

The Goat is the eight animal in the Chinese zodiac and it is one of the animals that people like most. People born in the year of the Goat are gentle, calm, loving, kindhearted, easygoing and social. They love life and are very energetic people who will stubbornly resist the opinions of others if they disagree with them. When stressed, they can be moody and weak-willed. They also tend to be very indecisive and pessimistic. Even though they are very calm and gentle, these people should not be underestimated. They are strong and persistent and their quiet strength can move mountains.

When it comes to love and romance, people born under the Chinese Zodiac Goat make a perfect couple with the Rabbit, the Horse, and the Pig. On the other hand, the Ox, the Tiger, and the Dog are the worst matches for the lovely Goat.

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Monkey

Chinese zodiac Monkey

Element: Metal (Jin)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Shen
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 1, 7, 8
Lucky Colors: White, golden, blue
Characteristics: Clever, quick-witted, bright, versatile, lively, charming, arrogant
Most Compatible Signs: Ox and Rabbit

The Monkey is the ninth animal sign of the Chinese zodiac and is usually associated with intelligence. People born in the year of the Monkey are energetic, cheerful and very intelligent. Monkeys are wise, confident, loyal, and charismatic, but they also tend to be egotistical, restless and arrogant sometimes. These people are full of clever ideas and pranks, but what they are mostly appreciated for is their great sense of humor and wittiness.

The Ox and the Rabbit are perfect matches for people born under the Chinese Zodiac Monkey. These zodiac signs seem like they were made for each other, as they share many similarities of personalities and life goals. Monkeys are least compatible with people born under the signs of the Tiger and the Pig.

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Rooster

Chinese zodiac Rooster

Element: Metal (Jin)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: You
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 5, 7, 8
Lucky Colors: Golden, brown, yellow
Characteristics: Diverse, confident, energetic, honest, brave, hard-working, persuasive
Most Compatible Signs: Snake and Ox

The Rooster is the tenth of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. The Rooster or Chicken is the symbol of fidelity and punctuality. In Chinese culture, another symbolic meaning of this animal is exorcising evil spirits. People born in the year of the Rooster are kind-hearted, hard-working, courageous, humorous, honest and independent individuals. On the other side, they can also be arrogant, inflexible and persuasive to others. They are intelligent people who love to show off their talents and are unafraid to be "different". Roosters love to be the center of attention and they also love everything that draws attention to them. They are impatient and lack humility – they want only the best when it comes to material things.

The perfect matches for the Chinese Zodiac Rooster are the Ox and the Snake, while the Rat, the Rabbit, the Horse and the Dog are their least compatible signs.

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Dog

Chinese zodiac Dog

Element: Earth (Tu)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Xu
Yin Yang: Yang
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 9
Lucky Colors: Red, green, purple
Characteristics: Loyal, honest, brave, adaptable, lively, smart, diligent, trustworthy
Most Compatible Signs: Rabbit, Tiger and Horse

Ranking as the eleventh animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Dog is the symbol of loyalty and honesty. Those born in the year of the Dog are loyal, sincere, friendly, smart and responsible individuals. People born in the Chinese Zodiac Rooster are kind and amiable, with a strong sense of loyalty. They will do everything to protect and help their loved ones. On the downside, Dogs tend to be terribly stubborn, self-righteous, and critical of other people. Dogs are highly intuitive, responsible and generous which makes them great leaders and organizers.

Some of the most compatible signs for the Rooster are the Rabbit, the Tiger, and the Horse. These signs have similar personalities so they understand each other well and will create harmonious relationships. The Dragon and the Sheep are the worst matches for the Rooster.

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Pig

Chinese zodiac Pig

Element: Water (Shui)
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Hai
Yin Yang: Yin
Lucky Numbers: 2, 5, 8
Lucky Colors: Yellow, gray, brown
Characteristics: Philanthropic, kind, sincere, sociable, determined, lazy, naive
Most Compatible Signs: Tiger, Sheep and Rabbit

The Pig is the twelfth and the last Chinese zodiac sign that represents good fortune and wealth. Those born in the year of the Pig are easygoing, lively, trusting, and honest individuals. On the negative side, they can also be very naive, lazy, stubborn, materialistic and easy to anger. However, Pig's kindness knows no boundaries and they are always willing to help those in need. Pigs are very responsible, independent, generous and considerate.

The Tiger, the Sheep and the Rabbit are perfect matches for the Pig. These zodiac signs have many common goals and similar values, which adds a lot of fun to their daily lives. The Chinese Zodiac Pig needs to avoid the Snake and the Monkey which are their least compatible signs. These three signs have totally different personalities and opinions and they may lead to conflicts in their relationship.

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