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 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.
3. 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.
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 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.
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, so fill us in using the comments below.