There’s no question that Melbourne is increasingly a dog town. Sure, we still have the Cat Café and everyone’s still feline the love for cat lady chic, but nothing makes Melbournians roll over faster than a googly-eyed puppy with an adorably wiggly butt.
We’ve done a few round-ups of dog-friendly cafes before, but now that the obsession with dogs has reached fever-pitch, we figured it would be remiss of us not to create an ultimate guide to Melbourne’s dog-friendly destinations.
Behold, this list of cafes, events, bars, pubs and markets where you can find dogs, pat dogs, play with dogs, pose with dogs, buy dog accessories and generally be a die-hard dog lover with other like-minded souls.
Sorry, no cats allowed.
Dedicated Dog Cafes
Melbourne’s first dedicated dog café, Dog House, opened late last year on Johnston Street. It has a gated courtyard where dogs can dine on such delights as chicken-flavoured pup-corn, turkey muffins and brisket bones as well as wolf down a dogachino made from lactose-free milk, eggs and powdered carob. There are even dog-friendly doughnuts, muffins and lollies—and for humans, pre-packaged sandwiches and coffee. Inside, pooches can enjoy a pampering sesh in the wash, cut and dry area, or try on a huge range of accessories and costumes. They also sell takeaway organic meat, and if you’re keen for your pup to marry another dog (#LoveIsLove), Dog House doubles as a destination for pet weddings and birthday parties.
The Dog Café
Open Thursday to Sunday and boasting a dedicated doggy menu, the Dog Café is basically heaven for dogs. It has swimming pools, a sandpit, a movie room with beanbags just for dogs, and plenty of room for dogs to run around in delighted circles barking. Doggy doughnuts, muffins, lollipops, lamingtons and dried meat treats are sure to get your dog’s tail wagging, and they can discover the joys of a puppychino here as well. Humans are well-catered for with top-notch coffee and classic café fare, and the Dog Café can provide doggy daycare. If you’d like to book a barkday party for your pooch, they offer not just the venue but the catering as well – with leftovers available to take home in a doggy bag!
- Patch Café (Richmond) | Melbourne’s first dedicated paleo café is happy for you to share your protein-packed power brekkie with your pup.
- The Farm Café (Abbotsford) | It goes without saying that your dog will be welcome at this outdoor café—plus, they can go for a scamper around the grounds of the Convent after.
- Republik Of Elwood (Elwood) | You’ve gotta love a place that has a whole wall of dog Polaroids, free doggy snacks and a big laidback courtyard where dog owners can enjoy a pint while their four-legged friend bounces around making friends.
- Priscilla Jones (Albert Park) | Hands-down one of the best places in Melbourne to take or meet dogs, this cute-as-a-button café serves housemade doggy treats for $2.50 and puppycinos for $3.
- Fitzrovia (St Kilda) | Overlooking Albert Park, Fitzrovia is the perfect pit-stop for you and your pup before a big day out with both pavement seating and a dog-friendly courtyard.
- West Beach Bathers Pavillion (St Kilda) | Two pugs legit got married here in 2015, plus the staff host an annual Dog’s Day Out. Choose an outdoor table to watch the sun go down with a dog and a drink by your side.
- Kanteen (South Yarra) | For a pre or post-Tan brekkie, Kanteen is a great shout. Doggos will love the riverside setting, the indoor-outdoor design, and the generous water bowls.
- Leonard’s House of Love (South Yarra) | If you’re a keen dog spotter, this is a P.S.A. that you’ll find one at Leonard’s at almost any time of day.
- Moby (Armadale) | Once upon a time, it might have seemed impossible to reconcile your love of Ottolenghi-inspired breakfasts with your desire to take your doggo to brunch at a place whose name reminds you of a 90s dance music pioneer—but NOT ANYMORE. Moby serves water bowls as well as some of the best brunch in town.
- Welcome to Thornbury (Northcote) | For the dog (and their human!) who loves to try new food trends, Welcome to Thornbury boasts up to six different food trucks on site on any given day, and dogs are completely welcome in their spacious beer garden.
- Breakfast Thieves (Fitzroy) | There’s always a water bowl set out and ready for dogs to quench their thirst at the entrance to Breakfast Thieves. The sidewalk tables are on a street that is quiet enough to keep dogs chilled out while still giving them plenty to look at.
- The Great Northern, North Fitzroy | The Great Northern is known as one of Melbourne’s most laidback water holes so it should come as no surprise that your pooch can tag along for Sunday beers. From time to time, they even host adoption days if you’re keen to find a dog that needs some lovin’—plus they have their very own dog-dedicated Insta, @dogs_of_gnh.
- A Minor Place (Brunswick) | They really, really like dogs at A Minor Place – so if your dog has had a ruff week and you want to treat them to a bit of B.L.A.T., head to this beloved converted cottage.
- Edinburgh Castle (Brunswick) | Who knew that Brunswick’s longest standing pub has a big dog-friendly beer garden? Dogs, that’s who.
- The Palace Hotel (South Melbourne) | The South Melbourne Hotel is the perfect destination for a doggy date. There’s a cracking beer garden and a resident pooch called Billy the Staffy who loves making new friends.
- Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens (Fairfield) | Did you know you can take your dog for a row on a handmade squiff, and he doesn’t even have to wear a lifejacket? You do now. Grab a plate of scones after then enjoy roaming the adjacent park.
- Kew Nursery & Café (Kew) | Nestled in a nursery, this café is dog-friendly, kid-friendly and vego-friendly – plus you can pick up some new plants after you’ve shared your corn fritters with your furry pal.
- Dish & Spoon (Camberwell) | Dish & Spoon not only caters to humans, it welcomes dogs from all walks of life. Want proof? There’s a special doggy door for your four-legged friend to enter the pawsome dog-friendly courtyard.
- Zero 95 (Doncaster East) | The owners of Zero 95 run pizza bars in Doncaster and Templestowe, as well as Six Slices in Kew, and they’ve all got one thing in common: dogs are welcome! Dine outside to share some of your crust. A third outpost is opening in Coburg in 2018.
- Dancing Dog Café (Footscray) | Probably the dog-friendliest café in town, the courtyard here is a huge open space that’s paw-fect for dogs to socialise and sniff each other butts. It has a picture gallery of recent dog visitors as well as a featured Dog of the Month.
- Madame Brussels (CBD) | What could be more civilised than a cocktail and a cupcake with your canine companion? Ol’ Rover is welcome here, provided he’s on his best behaviour.
- Arbory (CBD) | Both Arbory and Arbory Afloat (the bar's floating pop-up bar) are happy to welcome your favourite pooch. Just ask the staff for a water bowl and enjoy those killer Yarra views...
- Pontoon (St Kilda) | There's no better hangover cure than dogs and food. Pontoon combines them both, with delicious 'hair of the dog' brekkies. Get your hands on breakfast cocktails and recovery brunches with your pup by your side. Cold days won't matter with the warmth of a firepit designed to keep you and your furry friend nice and cosy.
- Streat (Collingwood) I Set in a converted 1860s manor with beautiful gardens, STREAT is the ideal place to take your pawed pal for coffee or breakfast. Dine alfresco with your dog and grab some take-home treats from the on-site artisan bakery.
- The Cricketers (Port Melbourne) I This neighbourhood eatery and watering hole is dedicated to great drinks and top food. But best of all, it's dog-friendly too! The newly refurbished Beefeater 24 Gin Garden at this joint is the perfect setting for you and your pup.
‘Les Chiens’ Group Show and Dog Photog Pop Up
A group exhibition celebrating everything joyous about dogs is opening at Lamington Drive in Collingwood on 22 November, 6 – 9pm. It’ll run till 2 December and the gallery is also hosting a pop-up dog photo studio to truly spread the canine artistic feels. Participating dogs will be dressed in Breton stripes, red neckerchiefs and felt berets in homage to Picasso and his sausage dog, Lump. Check out shoot dates and book here.
Melbourne Moonlight Cinema
Moonlight Cinema returns to the Royal Botanic Gardens in December and well-behaved pups are welcome. Food trucks will be in abundance, and your dog will love all the sights and smells.
Big Day Out for Dogs
The paw-fect day out for you and your doggo, the Big Day Out For Dogs houses a Canine Christmas Market as well as loads of fun competitions (like waggiest tail) and dog talent shows. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can pat, cuddle and learn about many different breeds. It takes place on December 10th.
Doggy Winery Cinema Evening
Is your dog a little bit fancy? Take them along to a movie screening set in a vineyard only 25 minutes away from Melbourne. The organisers will even walk your pooch around the block while you grab another wine if they’re acting up. This is the ultimate date night for your dog and dinner is included for both of you!
Daylesford Weekend Getaway
Fancy a luxury weekend getaway in Daylesford but don’t want to leave your best friend behind? Good news—you can stay in a manor house beside a magnificent lake and enjoy a mineral spa bath with your dog in tow. This getaway includes delicious meals prepared by private chefs and dog-and-owner massages. Go on, pop your paws up.
Doggy Fashion & Grooming
Diggiddy Doggy Daycare
In South Melbourne, Diggiddy Doggy Daycare is providing all sorts of dog grooming services as well as doggy daycare deals. So if your dog needs a bath, haircut, paw-dicure or Brazilian (painless, apparently!) this is your one-stop destination. They will full-body scissor your pup to perfection and give it plenty of cuddles. The team are certified in animal care and trained in canine CPR—we guarantee your dog will dig it.
Divine Dog Grooming Salon
Out in Mulgrave, you’ll find an award-winning dog grooming salon which prides itself on gentle handling and stress-free experiences for pooches. The team can give your dog a clipping style of your choice as well as a blow dry and tooth cleaning. You can even get your dog a semi-permanent hair colour… including rainbow patterns and a mix of colours if you want your dog to look like a majestic unicorn! The spa menu extends to mud wraps for small dogs and ‘paw packs’ to help out feet biters.
Puppy Phat is the perfect place to buy him or her a lot of treats for being such a good boy or girl. Pups even get offered puppalattes, poocinos and mock-choc drinks on weekends, accompanied by petit fours, doggy doughnuts and dog biscotti.
Want to find cutting-edge #fashurn for your four-legged friend? Head to Hachi. A boutique pet shop selling luxury clothing, accessories and homewares for dogs (and cats), everything is sourcd from Japan, ensuring it’s super kawaii. If you feel like taking things to the next level you can book a private photo session at their Pet Photo Studio.
The Paw Principality
For a dapper doggy, this North Melbourne boutique can kit you out with bowties, ballet dresses, suspender pants, fur jackets, fuzzy onesies, geometric raincoats, non-slip socks, pullover jumpers and ruffled t-shirts. Also, if you want a cool backpack carrier or car seat box for your dog, this is where to shop. They also stock a range of high-quality raw meats and treats as well as boredom-busting chew toys.
Dog-Friendly Parks & Beaches
- Albert Park | Albert Park is mainly an on-lead park but there are some designated off-lead areas where you can let your dog off for a good romp.
- Altona Dog Beach | Go west, young man – dogs are peaceful there. Altona Dog Beach has plenty of water bowls and bins though it’s probably best to bring your own poop bags.
- Aranga Reserve Dog Activity Centre | In Donvale, you’ll find a whole fenced-off dog activity park where dogs can do strength and agility training.
- Caulfield Dog Park | Located in Princess Park in Caulfield South, the off-leash Caulfield Dog Park is so popular it basically enables dog speed-dating.
- Citizens Park | A destination for dog lovers in Richmond as well as local footy and cricket teams, dogs are allowed off-leash when the grounds are not in use.
- Darebin Parklands | You know what will make your dog happier than 33 hectares of parkland with a huge off-leash area? Not much.
- Edinburgh Gardens | Dogs are almost always a feature at Edinburgh Gardens, which has an off-leash area for them to socialise.
- Eltham Lower Park | This big off-leash patch of Eltham has native wildflowers and an all-woofs-welcome vibe.
- Port Melbourne Dog Beach | Port Melbourne’s dedicated dog beach is up near the Spirit of Tasmania—which dogs can also travel on, if you’re curious!
- Mentone Dog Beach | Dog lovers can exercise their pooch day or night at the 24-hour off-leash dog beach between Charman Road and Plummer Road in Mentone.
- Rickets Point Marine Sanctuary | Take a trip out of the city with your pawed pal to let them run wild on the off-leash beach the southern end of the Beaumaris Yacht Club carpark.
- Ruffey Lake Park | The name of this sprawling Doncaster park gives the game away—dogs are definitely welcome and two-thirds of the park is off-leash.
- Sandown Street Beach aka Brighton Dog Beach | A fave off-leash area for Bayside dog owners, this stretch of beach is a sandy haven for dogs who like to frolic in the waves.
- St Kilda Dog Beach | Technically there are three spots along the St Kilda foreshore that permit pooches to roam free, but we like the West Beach the best.
- Yarraville Gardens | Yarraville Gardens play host to hundreds of happy dogs (and food trucks) on weekends as well as the Yarraville Farmers Market on the fourth Saturday of each month.
And if you're looking for the best food, and treats for your doggo friend, look no further than The Pet Grocer in South Melbourne.
A big thanks to the star of our header image @gusthegroodle.
Image credit: Griffin Simm