Chinese Zodiac Dragon – Characteristics, Matches and Love

While the Chinese Zodiac Dragon may seem like an abstract idea, like Taurus, Leo, Aries and the like in the Western Zodiac, the truth is that dragons walk among us. The Zodiac is a huge part of Chinese dragon mythology.

You see, the Chinese Zodiac was developed thousands of years ago and is based on the tale of a great race. In this race, thirteen animals competed to cross a vast river to meet the Jade Emperor. Each animal displayed various characteristics to get to the other side.

Ultimately, the dragon finished fifth. The Emperor was surprised that such a mighty and intelligent animal did not win, before the dragon explained that he had left the race temporarily to visit a nearby village to bring rain during a terrible drought.

These characteristics of benevolence, intelligence and social responsibility are why the dragon is the most important creature in Chinese culture. In fact, Chinese people see themselves as direct descendants of dragons and seek to live a noble life.

The Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

As mentioned above, there were thirteen animals in the Great Race set by the Jade Emperor. But only twelve animals make up the Chinese Zodiac. So, what happened? Who was the thirteenth?

The unlucky thirteenth animal was a cat. There are different variations of the story. Some say that the cat could not swim well enough and so drowned. Another version tells that the cunning rat tricked the ox into letting the rat and the cat ride on his back. Just as they finished crossing, the rat pushed the cat into the water, and sprinted onto the bank to win the race.

So, if you were wondering why cats hate water, and why they love to hunt rats, now you know.

The animals that finished the great race, in order, are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake (did you know there is actually an animal called the dragon snake?), Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and finally, the Pig.

What’s your animal?

Do you know your Chinese Zodiac animal? Check out this cool calculator. Are you lucky enough to be a Chinese Zodiac Dragon?

Each of the animals display various characteristics and traits, and it is said that those born under each sign are very likely to also display those same traits.

As you can imagine, this can have huge effects throughout life. Will you be successful? What path should you take in life? What kinds of people will you be compatible with and live a happy life with?

What does it mean to be a dragon in Chinese zodiac?

Well, firstly it means that you might want to grab yourself a beautiful dragon statue to show the world your dragon credentials.

So, as we’ve already seen, the dragon is the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac. And as we already know, the reason the dragon is fifth and not first is because it displayed great kindness and selflessness in the Great Race.

So, what does it mean to be a Chinese zodiac dragon? Firstly, it simply means that you were born within certain date. Check out the table below.

FromToHeavenly Branch
16 February 19043 February 1905Wood
4 February 191622 January 1917Fire
23 January 19289 February 1929Earth
8 February 194026 January 1941Metal
27 January 195213 February 1953Water
13 February 19641 February 1965Wood
31 January 197617 February 1977Fire
17 February 19885 February 1989Earth
5 February 200023 January 2001Metal
23 January 20129 February 2013Water
10 February 202428 January 2025Wood

We’d be surprised if we have any readers born before 1904! As you can see, like with all Chinese animal years, the year of the dragon occurs every twelve years.

In most places around the world, this means that you have roughly a one in twelve chance of being born under the sign of a dragon. However, in the Far East, and especially in China, so-called ‘dragon babies’ are considered lucky, so many plan their families around this calendar.

You’ll see from the table that the next dragon year occurs in 2024, just a few years from now. So expect to see the Chinese population grow soon!

Lucky Colors, Numbers and Seasons

Dragons are said to favor the numbers 1, 6 and 7. It may come as a surprise not to see the number 5 on that list, given that the dragon is the fifth animal. We’re also taken aback that 3 isn’t on the list either as the dragon occurs in the third lunar month.

On the flipside to the lucky numbers, dragons should avoid 3, 8 and 9. Again, we’re surprised to see 3 fall into the ‘avoid’ category. Similarly, the number 8 is generally very lucky in Chinese culture (that is why the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games started on August 8th).

In terms of colors, dragons favor yellow. Perhaps that’s due to the beautiful yellow eyes we know from dragon anatomy. Colors to avoid for dragons are blue and green.

For many, spring is a favorite season, bringing new life, beautiful weather and the promise of a summer to come. It should come as no surprise to learn that spring is also the season for the dragon.

Finally, if you are a Zodiac Chinese dragon, the amethyst is your lucky gemstone.

Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water

You’ll have noticed that the table above also contains a column named “Heavenly Branch”. What does this mean?

Well, there are five heavenly branches. Each of these branches denote slight personality changes for the Chinese zodiac dragon. As they occur evenly, it also means that each specific branch only occurs every sixty years. So babies born in the most recent dragon year, 2012, were water dragons. The most recent water dragon year before that was in 1952.

We’ll explore more on characteristics now.

What are the characteristics of a Chinese zodiac dragon?

It’s incredible to think that only one in every twelve people born around the world where born in the year of the dragon. But you know what? We strongly believe in spiritual dragons. That is, we believe that some people, regardless of when they were born, have inherited the characteristics and mannerisms of the dragon.

If you were born in the year of the dragon, then you will naturally have the characteristics we’re about to talk about. And you also have luck. You can’t be born in that year without and element of luck.

But as I say, here at Dragon University, we’re huge believers that there are many people out there who are spiritually a dragon. How about you? Check out these character traits and see whether you’re one of the spiritual dragons, even if you weren’t born in a dragon year.

The characteristics of a dragon are to be kind-hearted, brave and courageous. You are powerful – not necessarily physically, but in spirit and soul – and possess a fierce intelligence. You’re tenacious, not afraid of the odd risk, and you’re ambitious.

You are also decisive, strong and can inspire those around you.

But it’s not all positive. Everybody has weaknesses and negative traits, even mighty dragons. You’re likely to have a fiery temper, which can sometimes be triggered easily. And watch out anybody who crosses you when that does happen! You can also sometimes be a little eccentric (not necessarily a weakness), but this can make you come across as elusive and aloof from time to time.

Dragons in Love

If you’re a male dragon, when you fall in love, you fall in love hard. You’re responsible and sensitive to your partner, but you’re also quite nervous that you’ll do something wrong, or that the relationship won’t last.

Female dragons in love tend to display complete devotion to their partner, often taking care to dress up for them and show the world how much they love them. It can take time for the female dragon to find their perfect match, as they are prudent and careful in their selection.

The Heavenly Branches

It’s also interesting how the heavenly branch of the dragon year can tweak personalities slightly.

Wood dragons are more likely to have an entrepreneurial spirit, but prefer to keep things small and simple. This allows them to enjoy a quiet life of satisfaction and success. They like to be alone, so are more likely to work for themselves.

Fire dragons enjoy the social side of life, and enjoy mixing with others as intelligent as they are. It’s a complex personality which leads many only enjoying true success and happiness later in life. If you were born in 1976, you’re a fire dragon, and you might just be heading into your prime.

Earth dragons are family people. They love to surround themselves with loved ones, and are very protective of their families. They are positive, optimistic and try to be cheerful. Earth dragons live long lives.

Metal dragons share the kindheartedness of all dragons, but can alienate people with their bluntness sometimes. They’ll speak as they find, not through cruelness, but because they don’t know any other way. They tend to be talented and gifted too.

The most complex of the heavenly branches is the water dragon. The lot of these people is to spend their life overthinking things and worrying more than they should. This isn’t as bad as it sounds though. This mindset leads to hard work and achievement.

What is the Chinese zodiac dragon compatible with?

Given the benevolent and generous nature of the Chinese zodiac dragon, and those with a dragon personality type, you would think that you would be compatible with almost anybody.

And that is not a million miles away from the truth. The intelligence and soul of the dragon means that they choose partners carefully. In other words, although some animals are seen as incompatible with dragons, don’t necessarily run away!

The best matches are roosters, rats and monkeys. Why are they such a good match? It’s all about complimentary personalities. The dragon will offer guidance, listening, support, and in return they will get tenderness and devotion.


Roosters match best with wood dragons and water dragons. Through hard work and mutual support, together roosters and dragons can forge formidable relationships and professional success.


Although the cunning rat comes off badly in the story of the Great Race, rat personalities can be loyal and family oriented. For that reason, rats match well with earth dragons.


Romantic and social, monkeys match well with fire dragons. Together they pursue interests, mix with others and enjoy life. Monkeys also compliment the metal dragon, taking the edge of their bluntness.

Poor Matches

Although, as we said, we don’t believe that there is any such thing as a complete mismatch, there are three animals that it’s said dragons should avoid.

Due to personality clashes, and the inability of each to see the world from the other’s perspective, dragons are likely to be best avoiding ox, goat and dogs. This is due to a struggle on both sides for dominance in the relationship and can lead to unhappy times.

Interestingly, dragons are said to match somewhat well with horses. They will work well together, may achieve great things, but the relationship may not last. The most famous example of this? The dragon, John Lennon, and the horse, Paul McCartney.

Is the Chinese Zodiac Dragon compatible with other dragons?

But what about other dragons? This is an interesting question and has been subject of some debate for over two thousand years.

It seems natural, does it not, that dragons would work well together? And it is quite a likely scenario. If you were born in a dragon year it’s likely that almost all of your childhood friends, and your childhood love, were too.

But on the other hand, many dragons are lonesome creatures, or seek those who compliment their personality traits, rather than match them.

In truth, dragons are likely to sometimes clash with other dragons, but ultimately they will have a great understanding with them. With time, love and patience, dragons can be compatible with other dragons and face the world side by side.

Dragon Zodiac Eminent Personalities

Eminent personalities who are also Chinese Zodiac Dragons include:

  • John Lennon (see Lennon’s famous dragon quote and others)
  • Bruce Lee
  • Salvador Dali
  • Rhianna
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Rupert Grint (check out our guide to dragons in Harry Potter!)
  • Joan of Arc
  • Melissa Joan Hart
  • Robin Williams
  • Sandra Bullock
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