Thomas Hardy described Dorset as “partly real, partly dream” in his novel Far From The Madding Crowd and because it has no motorway or cities to speak of, it really is an unexplored, under-the-radar county with a stunning coastline, secret coves, towering cliffs and gorgeous countryside.
Add to that the beautiful villages with names like Fontmell Magna and Milton Abbas and you have all the ingredients for a magical dog-friendly holiday destination your dog will love.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the county has a long history of human settlement from Neolithic times. Three-quarters of its coastline forms part of the Jurassic World heritage site, which offers fantastic dog-friendly walking along the cliffs and its beautiful beaches, which include Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Old Harry Rocks as well as Chesil Beach. Dorset also offers a myriad of wonderful woodland and forest walks including Puddletown Forest and Badbury Rings.
We’ve fetched some of our favourite dog-friendly hotels and cottages in Dorset, where your dog will be as welcome as you are. We’ve also sniffed out the best dog-friendly beaches, wonderful walks, dog-friendly attractions in the area and fabulous country pubs to stop for a well-earned lunch – where your four-legged companion will be spoilt with treats and have the chance to rub noses with other Dorset dogs.
The awe-inspiring Jurassic coastline includes the spectacular beaches of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
Stay in the gorgeous dog-friendly market town of Sherborne, where you can explore the countryside as well as make trips to the coast to magnificent beaches at Harry’s Rock and the gorgeous Burton Bradstock.
Alternatively, stay in a luxury country house hotel or cosy pub with rooms near the enchanting village of Evershot, 25 minutes drive from the coast and close to the Melbury Park Estate with its fields, forests and deer park landscaped by Capability Brown that your dog will love to explore.
Or, you could base yourself on the Jurassic Coast in Weymouth, where dogs are welcome all year round or at beautiful Studland Bay where you can even get a ferry across to Sandbanks for off-lead frolics.
Our PetsPyjamas hotels are all incredibly dog-welcoming; with each one given our paw of approval. Suitable for all breeds and budgets, here are a few of our favourite dog-friendly hotels in Dorset.
The Eastbury Hotel & Spa, Sherborne
Set in the charming and historic market town of Sherborne, the dog-friendly Eastbury is a boutique townhouse where your dog is welcome to dine with you. Ideally located, it’s just minutes from the countryside and a great base for visiting the gems of the Jurassic coast.
A delightful 16th-century coaching inn with rooms. Featured in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, it boasts old beams and oak panelling. Super dog-friendly and close to Melbury Park Estate and just 35 minutes to the coast for runs on the beach and fossil hunting.
The Fontmell is a pub with rooms situated in the pretty village of Fontmell Magna, boasting stunning views of the Blackmore Vale. It’s super dog-friendly and stylish with a cosy bar and a fine-dining ethos. Walk up Gold Hill in nearby Shaftesbury or take the circular walk on Fontmell Downs.
Our PetsPyjamas cottages are super dog-friendly; with each one given our paw of approval. Suitable for all breeds and budgets, here are a few of our favourite pet-friendly cottages in Dorset.
The Cottage at the Eastbury, Sherborne
A super stylish dog-friendly cottage dating back to the 17th century in the delightful market town of Sherborne in the deepest Dorset countryside. The cottage is next door to the Eastbury Hotel with its award-winning restaurant – you can bring your dog along too!
A two-bedroom cottage on Greenwood Grange, a collection of ancient barns built by Thomas Hardy’s father and transformed into luxury properties. Set in the heart of the countryside, enjoy walks along the coastal path, stopping at Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove along the way.
A grade I listed cottage with charming character located in the delightful village of Chideock, between Lyme Regis and Birdsport, and a short stroll from Seatown beach. You and your canine companion can enjoy scenic coastal walks and spectacular views from Golden Cap.
After a busy day exploring the wonders of Dorset – the Jurrasic Coast and the fabulous countryside and picturesque villages – you’ll want to find somewhere to eat where your four-legged friend will be as welcome as you are. Luckily, Dorset is teeming with dog-friendly places to eat, whether it’s a beachside cafe, an award-winning restaurant or a fabulous countryside or seaside pub.
There are some fabulous gastropubs in the area in picture-perfect villages with food to match. The Hive Beach Cafe at Burton Bradstock is renowned for its dog-friendliness, the Cross Keys in Sherborne is also distinctly dog-friendly with lovely food and the Anchor Inn at Seatown on the Jurassic coast overlooking Seatown Beach welcomes dogs.
We’ve put together some of our favourite dog-friendly Dorset eateries where you can enjoy fabulous food sourced from local ingredients while your dog will be spoiled with treats, biscuits, doggy beer or maybe their own gourmet meal.
Dorset has a wonderful array of walks your dog will love, from dramatic cliff-top walks and rolling hills to woodland and forest trails. The countryside offers over 3000 miles of bridleways and footpaths whether you fancy a hike or a stroll with your best furry friend in tow.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Jurassic Coast which begins in Exmouth, East Devon and continues for 95 miles to Old Harry Rocks, is a World Heritage site valued for its fossils and rocks.
If you are looking for a woodland walk Thorncombe Woods, just three miles from Dorchester, is as difficult or as easy as you like and great for dogs who want to run off the lead. The woods span some 26 hectares and are close to Thomas Hardy’s cottage. Or, visit Wareham Forest with its gorgeous heathland, pine woodland and trails.
For a coastal walk with a combination of pebble beach, hills and a grassy headland visit Burton Bradstock or Lulworth Cove which has a combination of steep hills and flat beaches. Or, explore the chalky headlands of Old Harry Rocks or walk from gorgeous Studland Beach along past Old Harry Rocks to Swanage. Some of our favourite dog walks in Dorset include:
The Cerne Abbas Giant Walk
This is a truly beautiful walk around Cerne Abbas and Giant Hill with many different paths you can take. Park in the car park in the village, then you can walk along the river and there are plenty of places to eat in this delightful village. The best viewing of the Giant is from the Giant’s View car park.
Wareham Forest Way
This walk combines heathland as well as a forest with plenty of off-lead frolics on offer. It extends from Wareham to Sturminster Marshall and includes miles of trails, meadows and rivers.
A gorgeous sandy beach – perfect for dog-friendly frolics. Walk along from Studland beach to Swanage where you pass Old Harry Rocks. There is a dog-friendly cafe and car park.
Dorset’s dramatic coastline is famous for its fossil-flecked cliffs. A world heritage site, its Jurassic coast offers stunning scenery with amazing cliff top walks, stunning beaches with sweeping golden sands, hidden coves and secluded bays. Your dog will love exploring the famous beaches including Old Harry Rocks, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and West Bay, the wild and rugged pebble beach at Chesil Beach as well as some of the secret beaches off the beaten track.
Many of these beaches can be reached via the South West Coast path which offers wonderful clifftop views, allowing you to take in the amazing rock formations or hunt for fossils along the way. We recommend the walk along the South West Coast path from the West Bay cliffs to Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock or the coastal walk from South Beach to Old Harry Rocks.
We’ve compiled a collection of dog-friendly beaches in Dorset we think you and your dog will love. Not only are they dog-friendly year-round, but they include favourites like Hive beach, cliff top walks as well as dog-friendly beachside cafes and pubs along the way. Here are a few of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Dorset…
Hive Beach is a stunning beach in the charming village of Burton Bradstock on the stunning Jurassic coast. You can walk with your dog along the beach or on the cliffs and enjoy a spot of lunch at the Hive Beach Cafe – a dog-welcoming cafe located right on the beach that welcomes furry friends with a smile!
Dogs are welcome all year round at Durdle Door, one of Dorset’s most famous landmarks and part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A gorgeous beach – perfect for watching the sunset with your best furry friend in tow.
This sand and pebble beach near the village of Preston is dog-friendly all year round. This delightful cove is on the Jurrasic Coast and your dog will love splashing in the sea and exploring the rock pools.
As well as having some of the most amazing beaches in the country, dramatic coastline and wonderful woodland walks, Dorset has much more to offer you and your best furry friend. No need to leave them at home – they can enjoy a fun-filled day out in Dorset with you and the family where they will be as welcome as you are.
You’ll be amazed at just how many top attractions in Dorset are open to four-legged friends, including historic castles, museums, gardens and even a dog-friendly steam railway.
Some of the top attractions for furry friends include Swanage Railway, where on the 12-mile return trip you can enjoy the gorgeous Purbeck countryside and lovely views of Corfe Castle, Corfe Castle model village, find out the history of the Jurrasic coast at the Dinosaur Museum, visit the awe-inspiring Agglestone Rock as well as Studland Bay Nature Reserve.
Must see places
Makes the perfect dog-friendly day out on the stunning Jurassic coast. Your dog will love the ride as you trundle along the five-and-a-half-mile route from Norden to Corfe Castle and down to the seaside town of Swanage.
A National Trust-run 1000-year-old ruined castle about a 10-minute drive from Lulworth Cove. Your dog will enjoy the wonderful woodland walks including the Purbeck ridgeway walk towards Old Harry Rocks.
The Dinosaur Museum
Housed in a converted schoolhouse in the centre of Dorset – you and your dog will be transported back to prehistoric times with life-size reconstructions of Dinosaurs including the Stegosaurus and T-Rex.