The Canine guide to Dumfries and Galloway holiday cottages


The Canine guide to Dumfries and Galloway

Kate A 12 April 2022

Overlooking the flowing tidal waters of the Solway Firth and renowned for its pristine beaches, dramatic valleys and sweeping forests teeming with wildlife, Dumfries and Galloway is a favourite destination for dog-friendly holidays in Scotland.

Although this picture-postcard region of the Southern Uplands is arguably most famous for its scenery, dog-friendly Dumfries and Galloway is also brimming with a rich heritage, thrilling attractions and unique dining spots.

Our Canine guide to this glorious beauty spot highlights some of the best dog-friendly places to eat in Dumfries and Galloway, as well as some of the most tail-wagging beaches, days out and places to stay. And if you’re already itching to paw through our collection of dog-friendly holiday cottages in Dumfries and Galloway, just click the button below.

For more insight into this dog-friendly region, return to our comprehensive Canine guide to Scotland.

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The best dog-friendly days out in Dumfries and Galloway

Ellisland Farm

Ellisland Farm

Best for poetic pups: Treat your tufty-pawed pal to one of the top dog-friendly days out in Dumfries and Galloway, Ellisland Farm. Built in 1788, this was the former family home of Robert Burns, one of the world’s greatest poets. Dogs on leads can join their humans, exploring the farm buildings, the Bard’s study where he penned some of his greatest works – including Auld Lang Syne – and the grounds.

Why dogs will love it: After sniffing out the farmstead, there are some lovely walkies along the River Nith to enjoy, and a water bowl is on offer in the kitchen when they feel thirsty.

Drumlanrig Castle

Drumlanrig Castle

Best for regal Rovers: Step back in time at Drumlanrig Castle, another of the best dog-friendly attractions in Dumfries and Galloway. Humans may recognise this grand fortress or the ‘Pink Palace’ as it’s known, from the popular TV show, Outlander. Regarded as one of the finest examples of 17th-century Renaissance architecture in Scotland, it houses items from the world-renowned Buccleuch Collection, including works by Rembrandt and Holbein.

Why dogs will love it: While canines aren’t allowed inside the castle, they are very welcome to scamper around the gardens and 90,000-acre estate on a lead, which features miles of way-marked walking trails. Water bowls are provided in the stable yard and outside the tearoom too.

Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum

Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum

Best for horticultural hounds: One of the most beautiful gardens in Scotland, Glenwhan Gardens and Arboretum is another gem in pet-friendly Dumfries and Galloway. This colourful attraction was hewn from the wild Scottish moorland around 40 years ago and commands breathtaking views over Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway. And because of the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, Glenwhan grows many exotic plants from around the world, together with large collections of rare trees and shrubs.

Why dogs will love it: Provided they’re on a lead, four-legged pals are allowed in all areas of the garden. After nosing around 30 acres of meandering pathways, water is provided for thirsty canine explorers, and they are more than welcome to join you in the tearoom while you tuck into a sticky slice of cake.

For more exciting dog-friendly attractions in Scotland, peruse our guide.

The best dog-friendly beaches in Dumfries and Galloway

Sandyhills Bay

Sandyhills Bay

Best for doggy paddling: If you’re looking for dog-friendly beaches in Dumfries and Galloway where your pup can play with a frisbee and dip their paws in the cool sea all year round without any restrictions, then Sandyhills Bay is a top choice. Found near Dalbeattie on the Colvend Coast, the shallow waters are ideal for perfecting that doggy paddle and there are plenty of rock pools to sniff out too. For humans, there is a cafe and a small shop behind the beach, as well as ample car parking.

Why dogs will love it: At low tide, vast expanses of golden sand are exposed, perfect for zoomies.

Rockcliffe Beach

Rockcliffe Beach

Best for nature spotting: Within a 5-mile walk of Sandyhills is a small crescent of sand that sits beside the picturesque village of Rockcliffe. If you’re looking for a memorable coastal walk, Rockcliffe Beach is the place as, at low tide, it’s possible to pad across the tidal causeway to the nature sanctuary of Rough Island (except in May and June due to nesting birds). Just be sure to allow plenty of time to return from the island without being caught by the tide.

Why dogs will love it: Not only is the beach dog friendly all year round but there are some tail-wagging coastal walks to enjoy from here too, including the 2-mile trail to the pretty village of Kippford.

Southerness Beach

Southerness Beach

Best for a spectacular view: Found within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Southerness Beach will have happy hounds howling with delight with its wide sweep of sand that welcomes dogs all year round. Low tide reveals a series of rock pools for your pup to peer into, and the views across the Solway Firth are outstanding – sometimes you may even spot seals, porpoises and dolphins in the surf.

Why dogs will love it: They can have a holiday selfie in front of Southerness Lighthouse, an iconic landmark in the area.

Discover more of the best dog-friendly beaches in Scotland with our handy guide.

The best dog-friendly walkies in Dumfries and Galloway

Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest Park

Best for forest forays: The largest forest in Great Britain, Galloway Forest Park is the perfect adventure for the whole pack. Myriad walking trails will provide four-legged family members with plenty of places to sniff and snuffle while you savour the views. The Loch Trool circular walk and the Glentrool yellow route are just a couple of popular dog walks, with the chance to spot rare and wonderful wildlife, such as red squirrels and majestic red deer.

Why dogs will love it: They are welcome in the park and in the visitor centres and cafes too – whether that’s Kirroughtree, Glentrool or Clatteringshaws.

Grey Mare’s Tail

Grey Mare’s Tail

Best for waterfall wanders: You’ll soon see why this is one of the top dog walks in Dumfries and Galloway when you catch sight of the fifth highest waterfall in the UK, Grey Mare’s Tail. You only need to walk for ten minutes from the car park to have a view of the long streams of water cascading over the hillside, and from there you can either walk down to the viewing platform to see the falls from below or take the tricky but terrific 3-mile route through the Moffat Water Valley towards Loch Skeen.

Why dogs will love it: There are lots of things to capture their attention here, from the dazzling waterfall itself to the plethora of wildlife, including ospreys, ring ouzels, feral goats and nesting peregrine falcons.

Ardwell Bay to Doon Broch

Ardwell Bay

Best for coastal capers: For pet-friendly walks in Dumfries and Galloway along the coast, the circular trail from Ardwell Bay to Doon Broch should be at the top of your list. Ardwell Bay, where the walk begins, is a secluded, sandy dog-friendly beach backed by rolling dunes. After your pup has had its fill of digging in the sand, you can take a 2-mile circular walk to visit Doon Castle Broch, the rubbly remains of an Iron Age dwelling. Alternatively, you can head inland for a scamper around Ardwell Pond.

Why dogs will love it: Given the remote location of this beach, it is quite likely that your happy hound will have the sand all to themselves – they can run free and enjoy the feeling of the wind through their fur all day long!

Put your best paw forward and uncover some more of the best dog walks in Scotland with our guide.

The best dog-friendly places to eat in Dumfries and Galloway

Abbey Cottage Tearoom, Dumfries

Dog at cafe

Best for coffee and cake: Nestled beside the ruins of 13th-century Sweetheart Abbey is one of the best dog-friendly cafes in Dumfries. Inside Abbey Cottage Tearoom there is a special dining area that welcomes pampered pups to rest their paws while their humans enjoy a morning cuppa, light lunch or afternoon tea. There’s even a patio garden to hang out in on a sunny day, complete with water bowls.

Why dogs will love it: This is the perfect place to rest and refuel after scaling the heights of Criffel nearby, a 570-metre-high hill with incredible views over the Solway Firth and, on a clear day, Ireland.

Harbour Inn, Garlieston

Couple having a drink

Best for hearty pub grub: Set in the beautiful harbour village of Garlieston, this traditional 18th-century inn is one of the top dog-friendly pubs in Dumfries and Galloway. After salty adventures on Garlieston’s dog-friendly beach, your pack can warm up in Harbour Inn beside a roaring fire, and enjoy hearty pub classics, a cosy atmosphere and uninterrupted sea views.

Why dogs will love it: They are welcome throughout the pub and the pup-loving staff are always on hand to provide water bowls and treats.

Gather, Laggan


Best for small plates: Gather in Laggan is a great option if you’re looking for dog-friendly restaurants in Dumfries and Galloway for a light snack coupled with exceptional views. While canines aren’t able to join you indoors, they are most welcome in the outside area with heated seats. Here, you can enjoy the backdrop of rolling waves while tucking into ‘wee plates’, drinks, cakes and puddings.

Why dogs will love it: They will be mesmerised by the views while you enjoy your crispy salt and pepper whitebait, whole baked camembert cheese, and teriyaki sesame seed sausages.

Still feeling peckish? Read our full guide to dog-friendly places to eat in Scotland.

The best dog-friendly places to stay in Dumfries and Galloway

The best cottage for a romantic break

Treetops Coastal Retreat

Treetops Coastal Retreat, Sandyhills | Sleeps 2 dogs + 2 humans

Treat yourselves to a romantic break with your two canine companions at this chic coastal cottage overlooking Sandyhills Bay. As Fido and Rover play on the lawn, you can sink into the warm bubbles of the hot tub with a glass of fizz and savour the glorious views.

The best cottage for a walking holiday


Merton, Dumfries | Sleeps 3 dogs + 6 humans

A haven for walkers of the two and four-legged variety, this charming dog-friendly holiday cottage in Dumfries is perfectly placed for exploring the Nithsdale Valley. After a long day exploring the hills, come back to your cottage, dry those paws and curl up by one of the two wood burners.

The best cottage for a group getaway

Crofthead Steading

Crofthead Steading, Moffat | Sleeps 2 dogs + 8 humans

Peacefully tucked away on a 70-acre working sheep farm, this spacious 18th-century farmhouse offers a luxurious place to stay in Dumfries and Galloway for the whole family. Make the most of the walking trails from the front door (Grey Mare’s Tail is only 6 miles away), then soothe weary limbs in the sauna while your pups enjoy a well-deserved snooze by the fire.

Dog-friendly holidays in Dumfries and Galloway

For the ultimate backdrop to your staycation, choose one of our self-catering dog-friendly holiday cottages in Dumfries and Galloway. Whether you are travelling as a couple, a family or a group of friends, you’ll find a wide range of pet-friendly accommodation within our collection which will place you perfectly for memorable holidays in this glorious part of Scotland. You can also discover more dog-friendly things to do in Scotland with our comprehensive Canine guide to this unforgettable UK destination.

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.

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