Nestled between the scenic South Downs and the nature-lovers New Forest, dog walkers are spoilt for choice when out with their dogs in Southampton. For many Sotonians (did you know that’s what you call a resident of Southampton?), a dog walk isn’t complete without a visit to a pub. Luckily for them, the city is chock-full of dog-friendly free houses. Here, we give you the top dog-friendly pubs in Southampton as voted by many a happy hound and their owners in the DogBuddy Dog-friendly Pub Awards.
1. The Hampshire Bowman
From the happiest hound to the hungriest one, The Hampshire Bowman is ideal for a doggy-day out. The pub is nestled in the heart of the southern countryside in the picturesque hamlet of Dundridge, accessible from three different directions which is probably why it’s a favourite with every local and their pet. It’s dog-friendly credentials mean it’s known as “a dog’s pub that lets people in”, hosted by the pub’s two resident pups and their owners. The huge garden is a sniffer’s paradise and backs on to woods and fields for a post-lunch frolic. Water bowls, hoses for muddy paws and two big open fires give this pub everything you need for a cosy afternoon. There are doggy treats on the bar for very good boys and girls. Humans aren’t left out either, with well-stocked supplies of real ale and generous portions of everything from baked camembert to lamb tagine, no one leaves The Hampshire Bowman hungry. Stay all day! There are enough fur-iends and space to keep your dog entertained for hours and you’ll be treated to some of the best sunsets in England.
2. The White Hart
If dogs could talk, five barks would replace the five stars associated with hound-friendly haunt The White Hart. Taking last year’s Dog-friendly Pub Awards by storm, it had plenty of paws held up for votes thanks to its canine-caring credentials. There are three different napping spots to choose from (for dogs, that is) including a traditional bar area, contemporary lounge and large restaurant, within which, all dogs are welcome. Sniff-out the garden where there’s a ton of space to relax, unwind and throw a tennis ball of two. Expect toys, treats and lots of water bowls for parched pups plus a warm welcome from Kia the pub Husky. Humans are looked after too, with delectable dishes like stuffed chicken breast and loaded potato skins to keep hunger at bay. When you’re finished, walks at both Lower and Upper Pennington are less than a five-minute drive away.
3. The Southampton Arms
Another clear forerunner in last year’s Dog-friendly Pub Awards, The Southampton Arms is a real dog-friendly pub with jars of free doggy treats and plenty of water to make new pooches and their owners feel welcome. Pooches who like a fuss can expect the best cuddles and pats from the bar staff, while owners get stuck into taste-testing the huge list of cask ales. Food is traditional pub grub classics, from breaded mushrooms to hand carved ham and beer battered fish. Dogs can sit in the bar with you, or grab a bench in the outside area, just keep a lead to hand as there is a road nearby.
4. The Compass Inn
If you haven’t heard of The Compass Inn chances are you’ve heard of the Inn’s resident pub pup Boris. The little Jack Russell became quite the local celebrity after being pictured in the village Christmas card and the pub has never had a dull moment since. As a result, you can expect a warm dog-friendly welcome on arrival with water bowls available inside and out. Owners can eat inside with their dogs at the table, or can grab a shady space in the outside beer garden or under the pagoda. While you tuck into a proper country pub classic like creamy garlic mushrooms followed by a mixed grill, your dog can enjoy their own free doggy dinner. What could be more drool-worthy than that? Well, once a month the pub goes all out dog-friendly and pups can get a doggy roast dinner after their pub-community walk! There’s no area where dogs aren’t allowed in this friendly freehouse so you can relax while your dog has a great time come rain or shine. The pub is also 100% gluten-free for diners with particular dietary requirements.
5. The Grapes
The Grapes is where hampshire’s hounds go to feast, socialise and pick up a free treat or two from the dog-loving pub owners. Nestled in a prominent location on Oxford Street, it may ring a bell from its historic connection to The Titanic when it was a favourite with local dock and ship workers. Nowadays, it’s a modern venue where live music and big screens create a lively atmosphere. The drinks list features items from all over the country, plus local real ales and a wide wine list, with doggy “beer” (that’s a little like water) for the visiting pooch. Owners can eat inside with their dogs and there are plenty of quiet spots for shyer puppers to relax in. Outside there are shade and sun spots in equal measure. After a pint, head to nearby Queen’s Park where your dog can enjoy a before-bed frolic.
6. The Rising Sun
Located on Southampton’s waterfront is The Rising Sun. A dog-friendly, dog-loving haunt where well behaved dogs are welcomed throughout the day. Owners can enjoy the food service downstairs with dogs by their side, where hearty meals like brisket burgers and surf and turf steaks are consumed by all. While you sip on a real ale, thirsty dogs will receive their own water bowl. For those driving in, there’s free parking in the public car park opposite. On warmer days, take your dog and drink outside where you can find a seat to gaze along the shorefront. Then after your meal, walk it off with a brisk and windy dog walk along the shoreline.
7. The Bell Inn
The Bell Inn is a New Forest doggy dream, surrounded by woodland and run by one of the most dog-friendly teams around. Resident pub pup Maverick the Spaniel can be spotted in one of many cosy corners, welcoming his doggy friends and showing them the best sniffing spots from the many nearby walking trails. While they make new doggy acquaintances, you can enjoy eating local, with British favourites through breakfast, lunch and dinner including Swallowfield pork and roasted breast of duck, plus vegetarian and gluten-free options to boot.
The bars all have doggy water and there’s a doggy station outside for self-service. Fuss is given as standard and dogs can be with their owners while they eat in the bar, pet etiquette just asks that they don’t join you on the sofas. For very lucky visiting pups, choose a delight from the doggy menu where there’s dog food and even a “Pawsecco” to lap up. The beer garden offers great views with trees and parasols for a shady spot. For adventurous hounds, the staff are only too happy to supply you with a map for the best dog walking routes from the inn.
8. The Hare and Hound Pub
The Hare & Hound Pub is a 200-year-old coaching inn located in the village of Sway. At the heart of the beautiful New Forest it has everything you could expect; including great walks and super dog-friendly credentials to enjoy. Tail-wagging treats include beds, blankets, bowls and biscuits all provided with barrels of fresh water for your own self-service. There’s great human food too, with a traditional Sunday roast for weekends and home cooked meals throughout the week. Prime dog spots to sleep include by the open log fire and outside in the large garden where there’s always a friend to shake a paw with. While you enjoy a bite to eat and a real ale to wash it down with, the dog-friendly staff will be busy making a fuss of Fido.
9. The Ferryman
The Ferryman actively encourages owners to bring their dogs along for a visit and even has its own doggy menu. Lucky pups can tuck into dog beer, dog treats and even doggy ice cream. In other words this pub is a delectable doggy heaven. Owners aren’t left out with pub grub classics like fish and chips, gammon steak and a full vegetarian menu all on offer. Dogs can lap up free water bowls and there are spaces in the bar for dogs to sit alongside their owners, with a separate restaurant for dog-free dining. Outside there are trees and umbrellas a-plenty for keeping canines cool. Once you’re finished, the River Hamble and Strawberry Field dog-walking spaces are within sniffing distance.
10. The Brickmakers
Visit The Brickmakers and you’ll be welcomed by a beautiful independent freehouse with homemade food and a top dog-friendly policy. Rosie the pub dog, the landlord’s Goldendoodle, ensures that the bar is always stocked with doggy treats and water bowls and will help you grab a top-dog spot in the bar area. Dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant but can make use of the large garden where there are trees and umbrellas for some cool, relaxing shade. With its prime village spot you might worry that the pub will be too busy, but pups report that the open fire lounge means there’s ample space and plenty of quiet spots to curl up in. For owners, you’ll find five real ales to quench your thirst and a seasonal menu with English classics like shortcrust pie and leg of lamb. With wooden flooring, muddy paws are never an issue so you can pop in after a long walk in South Downs national park which is just a tennis-ball’s throw away.
11. The Empress of Blandings
The Empress of Blandings believe that all good pubs should be dog-friendly and they’re proudly setting the standard. Dogs can sit by their owners’ sides in the bar while they eat and are given a warm welcome, complete with doggy treats and water bowls. There’s a separate dog-free restaurant section in the pub but you won’t feel cramped for space as there’s plenty of shady outdoor areas for dogs to curl up in. The menu will have you and your dog drooling, with cheese and beer croquettes, doorstep sandwiches and main meals like roasted duck breast. As a special treat, buy your pup a doggy ice cream – the Empress sells carrot crunch and even old sock flavours! When tummies are full, head onto the edge of the picturesque New Forest for a long afternoon stroll.
What spots do you and your pup never miss when you’re Southampton-bound? We’d love to know your most favourite dog-friendly hangouts in Southampton, the New Forest and beyond, so fill us in using the comments below.