The Year of the Earth Dog

“Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Of one
Who possessed Beauty
Without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.”
(Lord George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824)

2018 is the Chinese Year of the Brown Earth Dog and begins on February 16th, 2018 and ends February 4th, 2019. Of the five Taoist elements Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood, this is the year of the Earth Dog. The Earth Dog is endowed with some of the most excellent qualities of all the 12 astrology animals. Nearly everyone loves dogs, and we often consider them to be our closest best friend. We welcome them into our lives and often excuse their annoying habits. We may try to imitate their loyalty and devotion, but, at the end of the day, this noble creature outshines even our best impersonations. When Lord Byron’s beloved “Boatswain” contracted the dreaded rabies, he nursed his friend until his passing without fear of being bitten and catching the incurable disease. His poem, “Inscription on the Monument to a Newfoundland Dog” is inscribed on Boatswain’s tomb, which is larger than Byron’s, at Newstead Abbey, Byron’s estate.

Dog Personality in Chinese Astrology

The Chinese Year of the Earth Dog year is a time of fairness and equality. Astrologist and Feng Shui author Susan Levitt writes about the Earth Dog year, “Controversial issues are given their due, revolutions are successful, politics are liberal, and political oppression is opposed. Integrity and honesty are the values that lead to success under Dog’s watchful and just influence.” In Chinese society, Dogs are the favored domestic animal because they are so loyal to their owners. Honest and trustworthy, Dog makes an excellent friend and will always take your side. Only Dog will loyally stand by when others have abandoned a cause. Dog won’t hesitate to make sacrifices for people and ideas they believe in. Dog has a strong sense of fair play, and honors commitments.

In Chinese astrology it is theorized that a person’s characteristics are decided by their birth year’s zodiac animal sign and element. So there are five types of Dogs, each with different characteristics: Wood Dog: Sincere, reliable, considerate, understanding, and patient; Fire Dog: Intelligent, hardworking, and sincere; Gold Dog: Conservative, desirable, cautious, and always ready to help others; Water Dog: Brave and self-centered, even seemingly selfish, well-versed in dealing with financial issues; Earth Dog: Communicative, serious, and responsible in work. Basically, those individuals who are born during the Year of the Dog will likely have characteristics in their personalities that are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Just as dogs have a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, those born in the Year of the Dog will do everything for the person who they think is most important.

Significance of the Earth Dog

Under the influence of the Earth element, those people who are influenced by the Earth Dog will be impartial dispensers of sound advice and justice, efficient and constructing in his thinking, moving slowing and with good purpose. He is faithful to his beliefs, but will defer to the majority as necessary. He is careful and vigilant, appreciating the proper use of money and power, having a fixed scale of values from which he will rarely deviate. He values his individualism and self-respect, speaking without reserve. He will not abuse the powers bestowed upon him, but may over perform and demand extreme dedication and loyalty from others to match his own.

Founder and Spiritual Advisor, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche writes, “The Dog sign is of the Earth element. Generally, people born with the Earth element are known for being unpretentious and honest. This element brings them a strong sense of stability and integrity. Earth people are very reliable and you can be sure of their loyalty, hard work, common sense and practical approach to making the best of every situation.” Of all the Dogs, the Earth Dog is practical enough to listen to the views of others and is more amenable to accepting others’ decisions. Like the steady Earth, this Dog is a realist, one who plans quietly and wisely and doesn’t make rash decisions. He is also more able to manage his emotions, and won’t be likely to swing between extremes of feelings. Intuitive and sensible, this Dog will know how to work best with others in a team. He is good at harnessing the best out of the resources he has and the talents of people around him.

Earth Dog Essence and Lessons for 2018

Among the animal zodiac, Dog individuals are the most humanitarian. To the Chinese, Dogs represent justice and equality. Dog individuals are the givers in life, prepared to sacrifice their own dreams, ambitions and desires for the sake of others, particularly for those they love. Fiercely loyal to those they love, Dog individuals are ever ready to jump to the defense of any member of their family or friends who is being attacked by either word or deed. They have a penchant for championing the underdog. Born with an innate sense of decency and a need for equilibrium in a chaotic world, Dog individuals strongly denounce injustice and wrongdoing, generously giving useful and practical advice to those around them. The Earth Dog could do with learning to mince his words a little, so as not to offend others and also learn to work with their capabilities and not impose high standards on them. The Earth Dog has a responsible character, and renders decisions for the collective interest. Skilled in mediation, the Earth Dog is also pragmatic, calm and serene. Gentler in approach than his fellow Dogs, his flair and his insight are very developed. Always cautious and alert, sometimes undecided, the Earth Dog doesn’t lose his biting skills when he feels threatened or betrayed by someone he had previously gratified of his friendship.


Repeated once every 60 years in the Chinese calendar, the “Year of the Earth Dog” is a potent symbol in men and women’s lives, offering when it occurs a new interpretation of our human condition. Strength of character, education, morality, social life, health and caring for our elders are all fundamental questions which should be revised and improved during this pivotal period. The emergence of new authors and philosophers, as much as the reissue of forgotten texts by great classical writers and poets, should wake up and feed this collective awareness. One must remember that the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog, symbol of intelligence and protection, can also turn the year 2018 into a sensitive period, during which activists and students, but also ordinary citizens, feeling deprived of hope and socially excluded, won’t hesitate to demand radical changes to their life conditions, and to preserve the future of their children. Earth Dogs’ instincts give them a clear sense of right and wrong in human relationships. Reliable, sincere, the faithful Earth Dog is dedicated to justice.

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