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Chinese Zodiac Animal Compatibility

Patrick Kim | February 11, 2017 | | 2 Comments
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People born under each of the twelve animals signs (生肖 shēngxiào) of the Chinese zodiac have different personality characteristics that make them more compatible with some animals than others. The twelve signs interact with each other in a way determined by the Five Elements Theory, a fundamental concept of how the universe works that also influenced traditional Chinese medicine, military strategy, martial arts, and feng shui. In ancient China, this system for zodiac sign compatibility was an essential part of arranged marriage and matchmaking and even governed some aspects of the business world, such as when a third party with a mutually compatible sign would be invited to facilitate business negotiations between two incompatible signs. Today, the Chinese zodiac is still looked to as a way to gain insight into the way people interact, especially in romantic relationships.  

Where Do the Animals Come From?

Chinese folklore tells that the Jade Emperor held a meeting for the animal kingdom, and promised the first twelve animals to arrive a month on the Chinese lunar calendar named after them. All the animals wanted to get on the calendar, but they had to cross a river to reach the meeting place. The Cat and the Rat were the worst swimmers, but they were also the most clever. The realized the best way to get across was on the back of the Ox, who, being very naive and good-natured, didn't mind giving them a ride. While forging the river, the Rat pushed the Cat off the back of the Ox, and scampered up to the meeting place himself when the Ox neared the shore. The Cat would never forgive the Rat for making him lose out on the zodiac calendar, and to this day chases him for revenge.

The Tiger made it next and complained at how much work it was for him to use his powerful physique to battle against the currents. The Rabbit was next to arrive, having made it across by jumping from stone to stone. He would have gotten there first but fell off into the water halfway through, barely saving himself by holding onto a log. The Dragon, which flies, surprised everyone else by only coming in fifth. He explained that he had to make it rain for people in a distant region, so his arrival was delayed. The Horse then stormed in, but on its hoof was the Snake, whose appearance startled the Horse, and caused him to come in seventh behind the Snake. The Goat, Monkey, and Rooster arrived next, impressing the Jade Emperor with their teamwork in using a raft to get across. The Dog's love of playing in the water caused him to come in eleventh, although he is considered the best swimmer in the animal kingdom. The Dog claimed it had needed a good bath on such a long journey, but it was clear that he had been enjoying himself along the way. The Pig came in last because it got hungry, and fell asleep after stuffing itself. 

Animal Compatibility

Compatibility usually occurs between animals separated by an even number of years, but not always. Couples of the same sign are thought to be compatible because of all of their commonalities, but should be aware that they create an excess of a certain kind of energy due to their shared characteristics. Conflicts are predicted between incompatible signs, but zodiac experts say that does not mean it is impossible to have a successful relationship. However, they do recommend added effort and awareness on the part of couples with incompatible signs. 

Rat

Years: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

Best with: Dragon, Rabbit, Ox

Worst with: Goat, Horse, or Rooster

The quick-witted Rat is a winning combination with the diligent Ox. The Rat's passionate and active qualities also make it an ideal match for the domineering Dragon. The Rabbit lives a high-paced life similar to the Rat, so these two will be able to keep up with each other. 
Ox

Years: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033

Best with: Rat, Snake, Rooster

Worst with: Dragon, Horse, Goat, Dog, Rabbit

The Ox and the Snake are both hard workers, so they make an ideal match. They are both family oriented and have lots of friends, making for a strong, stable, and satisfying life. Meanwhile, a match between an Ox and a Rooster is bound to see sparks fly. 

 

Tiger

Years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1988, 2010

Best with: Horse or Dog
Worst with: Snake or Monkey

The Horse and Tiger share a sense of adventure and will be satisfied will the exploits they accomplish together. The Tiger and Dog are both noble and protective of those they are close with, making them good for supporting each other. It is a famous combination in business. 

Rabbit

Years: 1927,1939,1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Best with: Goat, Dog, Rat, Pig
Worst with: Ox, Dragon, Rooster or Horse

The Rabbits seem to be friendly with signs, possibly because they breed like rabbits. However, they also tend to make a lot of enemies, so should watch out for multiple incompatible signs. 

Dragon

Years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Best with: Rat, Monkey, Rooster
Worst with: Dog, Ox, Dragon, Rabbit

The Rat, Monkey, and Rooster are all ambitious animals attracted to the Dragon, the most powerful animal. However, Dragon's are too magisterial for each other, and may be best off by moving on when they encounter another Dragon because the skies are only big enough for one. 

Snake

Years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Best with: Ox or Rooster
Worst with: Tiger, Monkey or Pig

The Snake and Rooster are supposed to be excellent in business together because the Rooster is prudent, practical, and calculating, while the snake charms customers and is power-driven. An Ox can offer comfort and security to a Snake, making them feel well-loved and important. 

Horse

Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Best with: Tiger, Goat or Dog
Worst with: Rat, Ox, Rabbit or Horse

The Horse and the Tiger love to chat it up, probably about their great adventures. They are very stimulating for one another, inspired by each other's imaginations. The pleasant and calm Goat is important for Horses to calm their strained nerves, an important aspect of a relationship involving a Horse. The Dog can also provide the element of mystery the Horse desires, and the two work well together because they can match

Goat

Years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Best with: Rabbit, Horse or Pig
Worst with: Rat, Ox or Dog

The Goat and the Rabbit love share a reserved demeanor, making it unlikely that they will offend one another's sensitivities. Meanwhile, the Pig's loyalty and support will help the Goat achieve success in business. 

Monkey

Years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Best with: Rat or Dragon
Worst with: Tiger, Snake or Pig

Monkeys are known for their mischief and tend to enjoy the intellectual stimulation of the Rat. They also make for a good pair with the Dragon, who is impressed and disarmed by the Monkey's antics. If the Monkey and Dragon have common goals, they are likely to pursue them together. 

Rooster

 

Years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Best with: Ox, Dragon, Snake

Worst with: Rabbit, Chicken, Dog

The Rooster and Ox are said to have a natural connection. The Rooster's ambitious qualities also resonate well with the Snake, because whether it be in business or in life in general, they respect and understand

Dog

Years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Best with:  Rabbit, Tiger, Horse
Worst with: Ox, Dragon, Goat or Rooster

The Dog and Rabbit are said to have mutual trust, while the Dog and Tiger also get along due to their nobility. The Horse and the Dog are prone to mood swings, but both understand each other and offer support. 

Pig

Years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Best with: Goat or Rabbit
Worst with: Snake or Monkey

The Pig, Goat, and Rabbit all seem to get along with each other because they are sensitive and laid back compared to the more ambitious characters like the Snake or Monkey. 

 

 

 

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Patrick Kim

Patrick Kim

Patrick Kim is an editor at TutorMing. He has a B.A. in East Asian Studies from UCSB, and has worked in China for 3 years. His hobbies are soccer, being outdoors, and studying Chinese.

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