The best dog-friendly pubs in Sussex

After a muddy romp across the South Downs, there's nothing nicer than settling down with pint of local ale, usually called something like Wibble's Water or Butt Scratcher, and a tasty Bonio biscuit in a dog-friendly pub. Luckily, Sussex is blessed with an abundance of such drinking holes, usually tagged onto the end of a good long walk and where wet noses and muddy paws are always warmly welcomed. Naturally, we've road-tested a few and here are some of our favourites for dog-friendly holidays in East and West Sussex...

Written by Tracey Davies

5 minute read

The Bull, Ditchling

A scenic 20-minute drive from the seaside at Brighton, Ditchling gained nationwide attention when famed sculptor and typesetter Eric Gill started an artists' community in the early 1900s. Regularly named as the best-kept village in Sussex, it still has a delightfully bohemian vibe. At its heart is The Bull, which has been slaying the thirst of locals and their dogs since 1560. Inside it's all low-slung blackened beams, cosy snugs and roaring fires to snooze beside. Aside from its impressive selection of ales, it serves a seasonal menu, all locally sourced from nearby farms, including a cracking roast at Sunday lunch. Dogs are greeted warmly throughout the pub and restaurant, and in the lawned beer garden which hosts barbecues and outdoor film screenings in the warmer months. 

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The Bell at Ticehurst

Moments from the border between Kent and East Sussex, Ticehurst is a charming little village in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are dozens of great dog walks found nearby, including around the scenic Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest. After a romp around the woods, stop for a pint and a pie at The Bell at Ticehurst. Once a regular haunt of Rudyard Kipling, who lived nearby at Bateman's, the 16th-century inn is now a whimsical, romantic and more than a little bonkers pub, which is super dog friendly. The decor is rather eccentric; think quirky top hat lamps, eagle cuckoo clocks and neon signs claiming, 'I will always love you, my friend.' It's well worth staying for lunch or dinner, especially on a Wednesday when it serves the "La-Di-Da" Fine Dining tasting menu. 

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The Star Alfriston

After scampering through nearby Friston Forest or along the South Downs Way, why not fall off the path and into the warm embrace of The Star at Alfriston. With its low-slung ceilings, blackened oak beams and roaring log fires, this medieval pub is the perfect spot for a post-walk bloody Mary and a bowl of water. It was built in 1345 as a religious hostel for monks and pilgrims en route to Chichester Cathedral. In later years, it attracted a more shady character as a HQ of local smugglers. But now after a recent revamp by the Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, it's a warm, welcoming and charming place to visit for drinks or food. Of course, muddy paws are always welcome in the main inn and the courtyard, however the restaurant and library are for humans only. 

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The Gribble Inn, Oving

Located three miles from Chichester, The Gribble Inn in Oving is one of the prettiest country pubs in the West Sussex Weald. Naturally, there are dozens of excellent dog walking routes in this leafy corner of the South Downs National Park, including the Monarch's Way long-distance walking path, where dogs can scamper happily off lead, and Eartham Wood, which has some brilliant circular trails through the beech trees. 

Housed in a beautiful 16th-century thatched cottage, The Gribble Inn is a popular spot with thirsty ramblers and their four-legged companions, who are always welcomed with open paws. After a romp across the Downs, what could be nicer than a pint of Fuzzy Duck or Pig's Ear Old Ale, which is brewed in the Gribble's microbrewery onsite. 

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The Tiger Inn, East Dean

Stretching across coastal flanks of Sussex, the undulating hills of the South Downs National Park offers dozens of top-notch dog walks, each dotted with some fine drinking establishments along the way. After a sniff along the trails of the South Downs Way, past the chalk cliffs of Beachy Head (leads on, of course) it's a beautiful wander down to Birling Gap and into the village of East Dean for lunch at the 15th-century Tiger Inn. Flagstone floors, open fires and plenty of oak beams, the charming inn is very dog-friendly -- four-legged guests are welcome in the bar with bowls of water and dog biscuits. Don't forget to take a brief detour to see the blue plaque dedicated to Sherlock Holmes who 'retired' to the village. 

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The Cat Inn, West Hoathly

Now we know what you're thinking... but far from being a hilarious Tom & Jerry scenario, The Cat Inn in West Hoathly is surprisingly friendly to dogs and their humans. Perched on a hilltop with far-reaching views over the Sussex Weald, this quaint 16th-century inn has everything you could want from a country pub -- rugged oak beams, inglenook fireplaces and a hearty menu -- and dogs are welcomed in the bar and on the garden terrace. It's a great place for refuel after a muddy trek through leafy Ashdown Forest, which was famously the inspiration for Pooh Bear's Hundred Acre Wood. 

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The Shepherd and Dog, Fulking

Squirrelled away at the very bottom of Devil's Dyke, The Shepherd and Dog is the perfect half-way stop on a circular walk from the top. Housed in a brace of crooked 18th-century cottages, this friendly country pub is just as the name suggests and welcoming to both sheep-herding humans and their happy hounds. In the summer, it's nice to kick back in the pub's lovely lawned garden (gated for safety) which has a children's play area shaded by woodland. Good food is served Wednesday to Sunday, and many flock for its excellent Sunday roasts, so it's worth booking first. 

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Written by Tracey Davies

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