Compatibility is obviously not a one-size-fits-all situation. Some of us crave two-peas-in- a-pod-type relationships while others won’t settle for anything but opposites attract. But in order to break the rules of compatibility, we of course need to know what the rules even are! The compatibility between different Chinese zodiac signs is yet another way to analyze who might be a suitable match! Let’s discover who’s the most (and least!) compatible based on Chinese zodiac signs!
Chinese Zodiac Compatibility: The Best Love Matches for the 12 Animals
Meet the Expert
Jaime Wright is a writer and professional astrologer based in Brooklyn, NY. She writes PureWow’s monthly and weekly astrology columns as well as her own project, moon missives. With clients, Jaime practices a blend of Hellenistic, Medieval and modern psychological astrology, but her curiosity leads her to countless deep dives into astrology of all kinds including the Chinese Zodiac. She’s done the research on the signs so you don’t have to!
What Are the Chinese Zodiac Signs and How Do I Find My Sign?
You probably know that the Chinese zodiac is a 12-year continuous cycle based on the lunar calendar. This cycle renews at the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival every late January or early February, marking the transition from one animal sign to the next.
The origins of the Chinese zodiac date back 2,000 years to the Qin Dynasty. Legend has it that the Jade Emperor summoned the animals of the kingdom to his palace for a banquet in what became a “Great Race.” The order in which they arrived for the great feast determined their zodiacal order and informed each sign’s characteristics. Though it has origins in zoolatry (or animal worship), this system has remained popular in China and throughout Asia for thousands of years because of its rich history, and for its use in determining not just compatibility, but one’s fortune for the year, career trajectories, fertility, and much more.
Beyond the animal association, each sign also correlates to one of the twelve earthly branches (the original animal year), ten celestial stems and five natural elements. The elements—wood, fire, earth, metal or water—are derived from the Five Elements Theory (Wu Xing) which describes the interdependence between all things. This theory forms the basis not just for Chinese astrology, but for other Eastern traditions like feng shui, holistic medicine, acupuncture, divination (such as the I Ching) and martial arts. These elements form the basis for the qualities of each sign and are super important when it comes to determining compatibility!
OK, now that we have some background out of the way—are you ready to figure out your perfect match’s zodiac sign? Great! First though, we have to figure out what sign you are! This is based on the year you were born, but those born in January or February should consult this calculator as you were born around the Lunar New Year when the signs switch over.
The Chinese Zodiac Signs are:
- Rat (1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 and 2020)
- Ox (1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 and 2021)
- Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 and 2022)
- Rabbit (1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011 and 2023)
- Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012)
- Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013)
- Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 and 2014)
- Goat (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015)
- Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004 and 2016)
- Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017)
- Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018)
- Pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and 2019)
Which Chinese Zodiac Signs Are Most Compatible?
Triangle of Affinity
The key to compatibility in the Chinese zodiac is what’s called “triangles of affinity.” These are four groups of three signs who are most compatible with each other based on their temperament and other elemental qualities:
1. Rat, Dragon and Monkey (the go-getters)
2. Ox, Snake and Rooster (the strategists)
3. Tiger, Horse and Dog (the quick wits)
4. Rabbit, Goat and Pig (the creative types).
An easy way to determine if a sign is compatible with yours off the top of your head is knowing these triangles contain signs that are four years apart, so you’re most compatible with those born 4 years before and 4 years after. For example, someone born in 1989 (Snake) is most compatible with someone born in 1985 (Ox) or 1993 (Rooster).
Beyond the animal sign, compatibility can also depend on the element year you were born in (find yours here). For example, though Dragons and Snakes aren’t necessarily an obvious match, 1988 (Dragon) and 1989 (Snake) were both elemental Earth years, giving them more in common than they would have based on animal sign alone.
Which Chinese Zodiac Signs Are Least Compatible?
To figure out the least compatible sign with yours in the Chinese Zodiac, it’s actually quite easy—all you have to do is look across the wheel. Opposite signs (or those born six years apart) have the least in common when it comes to temperament, element and purpose. For example, if you were born in the Year of the Dragon, you’re the least compatible with someone born in the Year of the Dog. Dragons are strong-willed and prefer solitude while Dogs are loyal and extremely popular.
Of course there are always exceptions to every rule and opposites do attract—there are certainly couples out there of quiet Dragons and sociable Dogs that are thriving. But when your nature is so opposite from that of your partner, a lot of the relationship is about being willing to work through differences rather than simply celebrate what you have in common. Not every animal sign is so willing to work through adversity (though the hot take is Horses most definitely are!)
Chinese Zodiac Compatibility by Sign
So now that we’ve figured out who’s most and least compatible, here’s a by sign breakdown for easy reference. Remember: there are exceptions to every rule, but there’s also a lot of truth in the rules that are there.
- Most Compatible: Dragon, Monkey
- Least Compatible: Horse
The Rat is the first of the Chinese Zodiac signs. Why? Well, the Rat tricked the Ox during the Jade Emperor’s “Great Race,” and jumped on his back, leaping off at the finish line to place first. Rats are cunning and clever and do whatever it takes to get ahead. Rats are also known for being optimistic and clever. They want to be successful while also leading calm and peaceful lives. Rats are simultaneously quite stubborn and opinionated while also being popular amongst their friends.
- Most Compatible: Snake, Rooster
- Least Compatible: Goat
As the animal that arrived second to the Jade Emperor’s Palace (behind only the Rat who tricked the Ox by hitching a ride on his back), the Ox is known for being honest and a very steadfast friend. Oxen tend to be humble and earnest, hiding from the spotlight and preferring to put their heads down and work instead. Oxen are calm, gentle and trustworthy and make great leaders.
- Most Compatible: Horse, Dog
- Least Compatible: Monkey
The Tiger came in third place in the Jade Emperor’s Great Race, even after everyone expected him to win. Tigers are extremely competitive people who tend to act alone. Known for their courage and ambition, Tigers are also extremely generous and genuinely want to help others and work for the better of the collective. When on their crusades for justice, Tigers do still end up being the center of attention. Their tenacity is always admirable even when it veers toward the self-serving.
- Most Compatible: Goat, Pig
- Least Compatible: Rooster
The Rabbit came in fourth place in the Jade Emperor’s race because after being in the lead for the entire run, he decided to take a nap! When he woke up, the Rat, Ox and Tiger had already crossed the finish line. Because of that fateful nap, Rabbits are known for being space cadets: quiet, dreamy and imaginative. But don’t underestimate them because though they seem timid, they’re actually extremely quick-witted, strategic and ambitious, just a lot more calm than other signs.
- Most Compatible: Rat, Monkey
- Least Compatible: Dog
Legend has it that the Dragon came in fifth in the Jade Emperor’s “Great Race” because he stopped on the way to create rain for a village suffering from drought. What a hero! Dragons are natural leaders and are known for being entrepreneurial, mesmerizing and magnanimous! Everyone looks up to the dragon! Dragons take their careers very seriously and often aren’t as interested in serious relationships or commitments, happier than most to be on their own. Dragons will absolutely settle down for the right person though, but it just needs to be someone who helps them achieve their goals!
- Most Compatible: Ox, Rooster
- Least Compatible: Pig
The Snake came in sixth place in the Jade Emperor’s Race, but legend has it, he arrived at the same time as the Dragon, but due to their size difference, the Dragon was counted first. Snakes are known for their sophistication and good sense of humor. Highly observant, Snakes always know exactly what’s going on, but tend to keep to themselves due to a wariness and jealousy of others. Some might underestimate the Snake but under their calm demeanor is a very sharp and calculating mind. Snakes are always slithering ahead!
- Most Compatible: Tiger, Dog
- Least Compatible: Rat
The Horse arrived seventh to the Jade Emperor’s party. As the legend goes, the Horse was scared to run past a cemetery, and after a series of trials and errors finally overcame the obstacle and finished the race. Horses are known for their energy and are motivated by happiness. Horses move very fast and can be quick to judge others who aren’t racing as quickly toward their dreams. This can lead Horses to have short tempers and overwhelming emotions as they are often unaware of their own faults. Horses are at their best when they’re free to pursue what they enjoy. Freedom is their ultimate goal.
- Most Compatible: Rabbit, Pig
- Least Compatible: Ox
The Goat arrived eighth to the Jade Emperor’s banquet after struggling to swim across a river. Thus, goats are known for their perseverance. Goats are strong and resilient but are often underestimated because of their quiet and calm demeanor. Goats make friends easily because of their gentleness and generosity with their time and money. As the peacemakers of the zodiac, their one fatal flaw might be an insistence on doing everything the hard way.
- Most Compatible: Rat, Dragon
- Least Compatible: Tiger
The Monkey arrived ninth to the Jade Emperor’s party, after traveling from another country and fighting evil spirits with his friends the Rooster and the Dog. Monkeys are known for being teacher’s pets with sharp intelligence and high favor both as students and in their professional life. Monkeys are calm and logical thinkers but can also be know-it-alls with extremely high standards and expectations of others. Despite this, Monkeys are extremely warm and forgiving friends and don’t hold a grudge.
- Most Compatible: Ox, Snake
- Least Compatible: Rabbit
The Rooster arrived tenth to the Jade Emperor’s party with his friends the Monkey and the Dog by his side, after all three of them fought off evil spirits together along the way. Roosters are straight-forward and decisive which can sometimes err on the side of perfectionism. Roosters are logical and excellent managers but also need a lot of validation and support. Family is everything to them! Don’t ever put Rooster in a corner because it’s when their vision is being blocked that they unleash their fierce side.
- Most Compatible: Tiger, Horse
- Least Compatible: Dragon
As the final of the trio that was fighting evil spirits in another country along the way, the Dog arrived eleventh to the Jade Emperor’s Party with his friends the Rooster and the Monkey. More than any other quality, Dogs are known for their loyalty (“man’s best friend”) to their friends, family and workplace. Cautious and humble on the outside, Dogs are often anxious on the inside as they take on everyone else’s emotions as their own and fear disappointing others. Decisiveness is the trait that Dogs must hone as once they decide on a path, they become unstoppable!
- Most Compatible: Rabbit, Goat
- Least Compatible: Snake
Due to either oversleeping or a disaster involving a wolf tearing down his house, the Pig was the last (twelfth) to arrive at the Jade Emperor’s Banquet. Pigs are the ultimate realists of the zodiac: what you see is what you get. Pigs also value pleasure and will always treat themselves to entertainment or relaxation, but don’t think this makes them unambitious. Pigs greatest asset is their enthusiasm and ability to see the best in even the worst (or most boring) situations. Pigs are optimistic, genuine and focused, but they can also be gullible! Don’t lie to a pig because they will take the information and run with it.