7 dog-friendly pubs in Somerset

Beer and popcorn is served at The Royal Oak at Withypool

Beer and popcorn is served at The Royal Oak at Withypool - Credit: The Royal Oak

Somerset is lucky to have many dog-friendly pubs, but there are always those who go the extra mile to make sure any four-legged companions are made particularly welcome, says Catherine Courtenay. 

The Blue Ball, Triscombe
After a bracing walkies across the Quantocks, dogs can enjoy a treat from their own menu at The Blue Ball, depending on what’s on offer it could be chicken, ham and beef tasties, or a crispy pig’s ear. 

The pub, with its beautiful A-frame wooden ceiling, is a converted 18th century thatched coaching stable, which was given a major renovation and reopened in 2019. Thanks to its position at the foot of the Quantocks and not far from Exmoor and the coast, it’s great for both walkers and mountain bikers, and caters for each – as well as for dogs, who can expect warming dog towels, a plentiful water supply and a dog menu, so they can eat at the pub too.

Other animals have also paid a visit to the Blue Ball over the years. The pub’s Facebook page has black and white TV news footage of John Craven introducing viewers to the Blue Ball, ‘a typical Quantocks’ pub’ along with one of its regular visitors, Josh the horse – who had popped inside for a pint of water.  

The Candlelight Inn, Bishopswood

Waiting for treats and fresh filtered water, at the Candlelight Inn

Waiting for treats and fresh filtered water, at the Candlelight Inn - Credit: Katy Ringsdore

As soon as anyone arrives at the Candlelight Inn with their furry friends, out come the water bowls. And this is not just any old water bowl, it’s one filled with fresh filtered water. And there’s a plate of treats too – all served to the table immediately!

‘We love it when dogs come along,’ says the owner, Mike Rose, who also has his own Irish red setters, Beau and Rosie. Indeed, he even named the pub’s own-label gin after Beau.

The 17th century pub is set in the heart of the Blackdown Hills and there are lovely walks for dogs and their owners nearby, including one which leads across the stream at the back of the pub. 

It’s not just dogs, local riders often pop by for a pint, along with a carrot or sugar cube (or two) for their horse. 

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The Lion at West Pennard
Well-behaved pooches are made very welcome at the Lion, not only in the bar, but also in the restaurants and all hotel rooms.
Owners Barrie Wilson and Christian Lockyer have their own resident doggies, Bailey the chocolate Labrador and Briar the poodle, who seems to enjoy taking part in photo shoots for the pub – he’s even been caught on film playing the piano!

Being dog owners themselves means Barrie and Christian were super keen to make the Lion a dog-friendly place for visitors to enjoy and feel at home. So, there are dog treats behind the bar and dog bowls and doggy-inspired hangers for dog leads in the hotel rooms.

Inspired menus, covering light bites to larger plates and Sunday roasts, are equally matched by the stylish bedrooms. Stay for a night or two, or just pop in for coffee and cake any day from 9am.

Being surrounded by plenty of open fields, means lots of choice for dog walks and exercise and everything is kept spotlessly clean and tidy in the pub’s large outdoor area with easy access to dog bins. 
It’s also worth noting that they don’t charge to house dogs in the rooms.

The Royal Oak at Withypool
After a tramp across the moor, there’s beer, popcorn and ice- cream waiting for canine visitors at The Royal Oak in Withypool.
This traditional Exmoor inn loves dogs, hence why they have their own special doggie menu.

Landlady Tracey and her family run the 300-year-old pub which went through an extensive refurbishment in 2019. It’s open all day and serves food every day and there are two bars complete with woodburners and beamed ceilings.

There’s a great outdoor bar and seating area, where dogs are also welcome. There are covered and heated areas, so you don’t have to wait for the summer sun to enjoy eating or having a pint outside.

Withypool is in the heart of the moor and a perfect base, offering endless walking opportunities. The pub has eight bedrooms, including dog-friendly rooms, so there’s every reason to stay for a couple of days.

The Royal George West Coker

Refreshments on tap at the Doggie Station in The Royal George at West Coker

Refreshments on tap at the Doggie Station in The Royal George at West Coker - Credit: Owen Jones

‘We certainly are dog friendly,’ announced landlord Martin Byrne, who runs the Royal George with his partner Emma Earle. ‘We have five huskies of our own!’

The Royal George is a 16th-century coaching inn in the South Somerset village of West Coker, and it comes complete with log beams and slate floors. ‘It’s such an old pub and we have no carpets, only flagstone flooring, so dogs can lie down on the cool floor and chill out,’ he says. 

All dogs are welcome, there’s a Doggie Station complete with doggie ‘beer’, (Pugweiser or Pawroni?), they serve doggie ice-cream and on top of that Martin keeps a supply of dog treats in a jar on the counter.

The Royal George is popular with both locals and visitors to the village. ‘We’ve been getting a lot of new dogs in lately, ones I’ve not met before – and I usually greet the dogs before I greet the customer!’

The Swan, Wedmore and The White Hart, Somerton
Both The Swan in Wedmore and its sister pub in Somerton, the White Hart, are very dog friendly. 

The Swan dates back to the 1700s when it opened as a beer house before becoming The Swan Hotel in the mid 1800s. It’s beautiful inside, a sensitive restoration kept the old bits of the building while at the same time creating a relaxed, stylish feel, with fires, wood flooring and comfy seats. Dogs are allowed in the large bar area, where drinks and snacks are available to buy from early morning right through to the evening and you can also enjoy dishes from the full River Cottage-inspired menu.

Dogs are also allowed on the lovely terrace and in the equally pretty garden, perfect for alfresco dining. They are welcome to stay in any of the seven ensuite rooms, but can’t be left alone unless in a secure cage.

There’s the same doggie welcome at The White Hart in Somerton, another lovely restored pub, equally spacious and offering high quality food. Again, dogs are very welcome in the bar, or out in the courtyard and garden, so it may be worth popping in for one of chef Maya’s award-winning breakfasts, before, or after the dog walk. F

or a longer stay, it’s nice to know all the bedrooms are dog friendly and what’s more, dogs staying overnight get their very own Doggy Goody Box, complete with treats, a tennis ball and those essential poop bags – a lovely pet-friendly extra that you’ll also find at The Swan.

Plus one in Bristol too

The Dark Horse, Bristol
In the heart of the city, you’ll find The Dark Horse, which has a good reputation for welcoming dogs. This rustic-style, country pub is right next to St George’s Park, so it’s used to its fair share of four-legged customers. It has an open fire, floorboards and sofas inside, but also an open-air roof terrace. Dogs are very welcome, they’ve even been known to partake of the regular pub quiz. 
The pub serves real ales, local craft beers and farmhouse ciders and Sunday roasts are a speciality, with a selection of meats or popular veggie and vegan offerings, and best of all, dogs also get to dine with owners, enjoying a plate of doggie scraps for free.