Top 10 dog-friendly beaches in Dorset

Coastal, Pet friendly, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Hannah Jury on 15th May 2023

Dog-friendly beaches in Dorset

Home to one of Britain’s most spectacular coastlines and countryside radiant with natural beauty, Dorset is an amazing destination for a retreat. Don’t let the thought of taking your dogs hold you back from exploring this lovely county on the South Coast - there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches in Dorset to discover for a start! 

On these dog-friendly Dorset beaches, you can spend your days getting salty paws and toes on long beach walks, doing some doggy paddle in the crystal-blue sea or simply digging holes in the beach (your dog may be more successful at this than you). 

In fact, all of the pet-friendly beaches below welcome dogs all year round, without restrictions, so you're free to roam these coastal walks in Dorset with your four-legged best friend! There is so much to enjoy in this beautiful county. Take a look at our Discover Dorset blog for more holiday ideas.

Dorset dog-friendly cottages

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach

This gently sloping shingle beach, also known as Chesil Bank, is a popular spot for mackerel fishing and offers wonderful views over to Weymouth and Portland. The pebbly 18-mile stretch of Chesil Beach from Portland to West Bay offers an abundance of dog walking space and the opportunity to delve into the world of fossil hunting too. 

Once you tire of the beach, you can explore Fleet Lagoon which lies behind it. The saltwater lagoon was used to test the Bouncing Bomb during World War II, and is now a protected area that is home to a diverse range of animals, birds and plants. The Dorset Wildlife Trust runs trips on board their shallow-bottomed boat across the lagoon, during which you can learn more about the wildlife. Dogs are allowed on board at the skipper's discretion.

Before you head back to your Dorset holiday cottage, take a look around the village of Abbotsbury. The Swannery and Sub-Tropical Gardens are great attractions, although please note, only the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens allow dogs.

Local info: Multiple pay and display car parks close to the beach. Cafe and picnic area. Seasonal lifeguard patrols only at West Bay. See RNLI website for information.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Swallows At Lower Manor Farm | sleeps 3 + 2 dogs

Durdle Door

Durdle Door West and East Beach

The distinctive rocky arch of Durdle Door, near West Lulworth, is perhaps one of the country’s most recognised geological wonders. You’ll love walking along the sand and pebble beach here and along the adjacent Man 'O' War beach with your dog. On warm days, the emerald water seems to beckon you in with the promise of a cool swim, while in the depths of winter the beautiful arch stands strong and majestic against the weather, providing a stunning backdrop for a bracing dog walk.

Access to Durdle Door Beach is a bit limited so make sure you wear sturdy footwear walking down the steep path or over the hills from Lulworth Cove. Lulworth Cove is also a beautiful place to visit and also has a pretty dog-friendly shingle beach (no restrictions between October and March). Read our blog about some great things to do in and around Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.

Local info: Car parking on the clifftop above. Cafe, toilets and shop nearby. No lifeguard.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: The Old Vicarage | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Bowleaze Cove

Bowleaze Cove

Moody blue cliffs provide a stunning backdrop to this beautiful beach, located just 2 miles east of Weymouth and 2 minutes away from the South West Coast Path. From the beach, you can wander up to explore the ruins of the Roman temple on Jordan Hill. There's not much remaining of the temple itself, but gazing out over the panoramic views, it's not hard to see why it was built in this picturesque spot.

As well as being dog friendly, Bowleaze Cove is also a great family beach, with shallow zones for bathing and water sports. While wandering along in the company of your dog, you may spot jet-skis zipping around the cove, and in the summer the conditions are ripe for a paddle or swim.

Local info: Road parking and pay and display parking nearby. Toilets, cafe, shop, pub nearby. No lifeguard.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Bowleaze Beach Apartment  | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Monmouth Beach
Image: Paleobear (licensed under CC 2.0)

Monmouth Beach

Probably the best dog-friendly beach in Lyme Regis, this pretty sand and pebble beach welcomes dogs all year round – great news for dog-friendly families wanting to spend the day fossil hunting or rock-pooling at low tide.

Part of the Jurassic Coast, Monmouth Beach is backed by the ancient Ware Cliffs which are studded with fossils. These are revealed during rock falls, so be sure to keep away from the cliffs themselves and focus your hunt on finding fossils amongst the pebbles on the beach. It's around a mile outside of Lyme Regis town centre, but all of the town's amenities are still within easy reach for a pit stop before or after your beach trip. If you haven't been lucky enough to find your own fossil, head for the fossil shop in Lyme Regis where you can buy one as a consolation!

Note: Other beaches in Lyme Regis may have dog restrictions.

Local info: Pay and display car park next to the beach. Toilets - other amenities a 10-15 minute walk into town. No lifeguard.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Burton House Apartment | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Ringstead Bay

Ringstead Bay

The shingle stretch of Ringstead Bay, with its excellent water quality, is lovely for bathing and swimming as well as dog walking. At nearly 0.5 miles long, there's plenty of room for tiring out energetic pups, and even more space at low tide when the sea draws back to reveal a sandy expanse. Take time to explore the rock pools at the western end and, as with many spots along the Jurassic Coast, keep an eye out for fossils.

Besides enjoying the beach, you can take a walk along the cliff tops to take in the outstanding views across Weymouth Bay.

Local info: Pay and display car park 50 metres from beach, free National Trust car park on the clifftop (involves a steep walk). Cafe, shop and toilets. No lifeguard.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Seafields - Ringstead | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs.

Eype Beach

Eypemouth Beach

The pretty village of Eype leads you down steep winding lanes to the hidden beauty of Lower Eype beach, also known as Eypemouth Beach. A small pebbly beach popular with walkers enjoying the South West Coast Path, enjoy endless games of fetch and gorgeous views out to sea.

Surfing and swimming are popular pastimes here, so why not pack a picnic and set up for a few hours to enjoy the fun of the seaside without the crowds? Keep your distance from the cliffs as they are susceptible to landslides.

Local info: Small car park above the beach. Pub and refreshments in Eype, a 10-minute walk away. No lifeguard.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Beach Retreat - Eype | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Mudeford Sandbank

Mudeford Sandbank

Situated at the mouth of Christchurch harbour, this sandy beach offers amazing views over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and The Needles. Extending off Hengistbury Head, Mudeford Sandbank can be reached by a 15-minute walk, a land train or ferry. Colourful beach huts face out both directions from the spit, where people come to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and glorious views.

Walk all the way to the end of the spit and you'll be able to see Mudeford Quay, just a stone's throw away across the channel known to locals as 'The Run'.As well as walks along the beach, it's a great spot for bathing and water sports and we reckon it's one of the best dog-friendly beaches in Christchurch. 

Local info: Nearest parking at Mudeford Quay (15-minute walk) - ferry also available from the quay. Cafe, toilets and shop next to the beach. No lifeguards.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Solent Breeze | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Highcliffe Steamer

Steamer Point Beach

Another contender for the best dog-friendly beach in Christchurch, you can admire the Isle of Wight from the sandy shores of Steamer Point Beach, welcoming dogs off the lead all year round. Part of a 24-acre nature reserve, the beach can only be reached via Highcliffe Castle or the mile-long path leading from nearby Friar's Cliff Beach. The walk itself is impressive, offering astonishing coastal views and the opportunity to branch off and explore the woodland and ponds. You can walk all the way to Highcliffe Castle where dogs are allowed in the grounds and heritage centre.

The beach itself is quite quiet, with plenty of sand for your dog to run around on. The name of the beach dates back to approximately 1830, when Lord Stuart de Rothsay had a paddle steamer beached on the sand as an office for the builders working on the castle. Today, nothing remains of the steamer but the legacy of its name.

Local info: Pay and display parking at Steamer Point and Highcliffe Castle. Cafe and toilets. No lifeguards.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Wick Cottage | sleeps 5 + 2 dogs

Church Ope Cove

Church Ope Cove

Near Fortuneswell, Church Ope Cove is one of the very few beaches on the Isle of Portland, and good news – it's dog friendly! A haven for bird watchers, enjoy the secluded peace of this pretty little cove walking your dog along the pebbly shores.

As well as dog walkers, the cove is enjoyed by swimmers and divers, but take care if you fancy a dip, as a little way out the currents can be strong. While the beach itself is quite small, there are lots of ways you can extend your dog walk. Head off on the South West Coast Path which skirts around the edge of Portland, or take a short stroll up from the beach to explore the ruins of Rufus Castle and the dog-friendly Portland Museum.

Local info: Small, free car park opposite Pennsylvania Castle. Toilets by the beach. Small cafe at the nearby caravan park. No lifeguards.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Bridge Cottage | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay

The glistening waters of Kimmeridge Bay attract snorkellers and divers with the promise of crystal-clear visibility and teeming sea life. It's also one of Dorset's most popular surfing beaches, with a reef break known as Broadbench. It's a wonderful spot for a dog walk, too, with many interesting features to look at along the way. Your dog will enjoy having a nosy around the rock pools which are a haven for crabs, anemones and little fish. Pick your way along the limestone ledges and you can look directly down into the water to see what wonders you can spot.

While you're in the bay, stop at the Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre to find out more about the local sea life. Find even more beautiful Dorset beaches in this guide.

Local info: Toll road down to main car park. Public toilets. Wild Seas Centre, refreshments, picnic area. No lifeguards.

Dog restrictions: None - dogs welcome all year round.

Stay nearby: Primrose Cottage - Church Knowle | sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Dog-friendly beaches Dorset on a map

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Dog-friendly holidays in Dorset

We have a wide range of dog-friendly cottages in Dorset, many of which are close to these spectacular beaches. Open the front door and step out on epic walkies with your four-legged best friend and explore Dorset together. Simply click the button below to find your perfect beach house in Dorset.

All Dorset dog-friendly cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.