What Is a Dog Café? Everything You Need to Know

Nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of cat cafés by now, but felines aren’t the only four-legged friend to take over this share of the market. Dog cafés are also on the rise. What exactly is a dog café?

Dog cafés exist in the same vein as cat cafés, in that visitors can come in, sit down to a pastry and a hot coffee, and pet and play with the dogs at the café. Many dog cafés offer their puppy pals for adoption as well!

If you want to learn more about dog cafés, you’ve come to the right place. This full guide to canine cafés will discuss how they work, what you can do when you visit a dog café, and whether these cafés are legal. You won’t want to miss it!

What Is a Dog Café? Where Did They Come from?

Dog cafés are technically animal cafés, the first of which originated in 1998 in Taiwan. That was a cat café. If you read our article on cat cafés, you may recall that while Taiwan started them, Japan popularized them. 

From there, the rest of the world caught on to animal cafés. Today, you can visit animal cafés where you can pet and cuddle with all sorts of creatures, everything from raccoons to sheep, reptiles, hedgehogs, birds, rabbits, and dogs.

Dog cafés are widely agreed upon to be more boisterous than your average animal café due to the nature of dogs themselves. Dogs are much bigger animals than most of the creatures featured at other animal cafés (well, most dog breeds are, that is), so the café will be bigger than normal. 

The café environment is usually more rambunctious as well since dogs will run, play, and sometimes bark.

How Does a Dog Café Work?

When you walk into a dog café, what should you expect?

If you’ve visited another animal café, then it’s not all that different. Some cafés will charge you a cover to enter, the fees of which usually go towards caring for the animals that live in the café. If that’s the case, then you’d still have to pay for whatever food or drinks you bought once you enter the dog café.

Some dog cafés will institute a one-fee-covers-all type of payment structure. In this instance, you’re paying mostly for time with the dogs, in which you’d get a fixed amount of time. You wouldn’t have to pay additional cash for your drinks, although whether that applies to snacks would vary by café. 

Once you’re inside the café, you’ll see a lot of dogs roaming about. Many dog cafés have an assortment of breeds both big and small to suit nearly everyone’s tastes. The dogs are usually separated from the areas where you and the other customers will eat and drink due to hygienic reasons. 

Dog cafés will have a fully-stocked menu full of coffee, cappuccinos, espressos, and non-caffeinated beverages. You can also eat all sorts of café fare, usually pastries and perhaps donuts and cupcakes too. What a dog café offers on its menu is usually unique to that café.

Most dog cafés will theme their menu, with the theme being canines, of course! The lattes on the menu might feature foam doggies and cookies might be shaped like dogs or dog bones. This adds further to the overall experience.

After you fill your stomach, you can then play with the dogs at the café. As you’ll recall, playtime only lasts for a limited period. This ensures that all paying customers get their fair time with the dogs. 

What can you do with the dogs at a dog café? You can pet them, scratch them behind the ears, and play with them. Perhaps you two engage in a tough game of tug-of-war or you throw their frisbee a short distance.

Dog cafés may have an allocated outdoor area for playtime, or it may be all indoors. If it’s the former, then you certainly have to be respectful of the other customers so you don’t throw a frisbee or a slobbery tennis ball too close to them.

The dogs that you spend time with at the café do live there full-time. They usually sleep and eat in an area in the back that customers don’t get to see. Since they’re considered members of the café family, the dogs will be well cared for.

The dog café might prohibit customers from interacting with certain dogs while they’re sleeping or not feeling well to prevent overstimulation and stress in the canine.

Can You Adopt Dogs You Visit at a Dog Café?

Have you ever met an animal and bam! You two had an instant connection? Perhaps that’s something you experience at a dog café. The dog seems to feel it too, which makes it that much more heartbreaking when your time at the café runs out and you have to leave.

You think about the dog for the whole rest of the day and into the next day and even the next. You wish for nothing more than to spend your days with the dog. Can you go back to the dog café and adopt your ideal canine companion?

While it varies by café, many dog cafés do indeed encourage their customers to adopt the canines there. 

Some dog cafés might have adoption events where some of the dogs that live at the café are available to take home to a new furrever home. Other cafés might allow you to adopt their dogs on an individual basis as interest arises. 

You would likely still have to go through all the normal adoption channels, such as filling out paperwork, proving that your home is a habitable environment for dogs, etc. 

The dogs that live at the dog café were already spared a life in the shelter by being taken in by the café. Thus, if you choose to adopt a dog at a dog café as opposed to a shelter, you can still feel good about your decision.

Are Dog Cafés Legal?

When it comes to animal cafés, there are always questions surrounding the legalities of these establishments. As we’ve written about on the blog, animal cafés are legal, but they’re held to very stringent standards.

For instance, the café must only allow vaccinated animals into its restaurant. 

Dogs require a variety of vaccines in puppyhood, everything from rabies to influenza, distemper, and more. If a dog isn’t current on its shots, or if it missed some shots, the dog café should not allow that dog on its premises.

Further, most dogs that pass through the café’s doors are spayed or neutered. These common reproductive procedures prevent animals from getting pregnant or being able to get other dogs pregnant. 

The reason that dog cafés should spay or neuter their dogs isn’t wholly to prevent pregnancy though. Mostly, it’s to eliminate the unwanted sexual behaviors that dogs exhibit when they’re not fixed. These behaviors can include humping and spraying urine, the latter of which would be wildly unsanitary.

The dog café also must have separate petting and playing areas as well as eating and drinking areas, as we discussed before. These areas must be clearly designated so customers know what to do in each area of the café they visit.

On top of everything else, animal café owners are subject to more frequent inspections than regular cafés and restaurants. Cat cafés are usually inspected at least twice per year, so we assume the rule would be true of other animal cafés such as dog cafés too.

This prevents the café owner from getting too lax in hygiene, which can happen when they’re only expecting the health inspector once per year. 

Granted, even with these rules and requirements in place, dog cafés shut down all the time. That’s true as well of cat cafés. In some cases, the owners get tired of running the establishment, but in many more cases, repeated violations cause the health inspector to close the dog café down for good.

Should You Visit a Dog Café?

You found a dog café in your area that you’re interested in. It seems clean enough, at least from the outside and the photos you saw online. Is it worth popping in there for a visit?

We say yes, it absolutely is! Here are some benefits of being around canines that you can enjoy if you go to a dog café today.

Relieves Stress

Petting a furry animal, dog or cat, has been proven to lower our levels of cortisol. If you’re not familiar, cortisol is the hormone that induces stress. 

While some stress is good for our bodies (think flight or fight response), too much can cause burnout, depression, and general feelings of dissatisfaction towards life.

Some experts believe that petting a dog (or cat) raises our levels of oxytocin, which is the feel-good chemical.

Increases Your Exercise

If you’re playing with a dog, you can very rarely be seated to do it. You have to get up to throw that ball or stick. Plus, once you own a dog, you must commit to taking them outside for walks several times per day.

This overall increases your rate of activity. If you’re someone who finds yourself unmotivated to exercise, owning a dog will change that in a jiffy!

Helps If You’re Missing a Canine Companion Back Home

Perhaps you’re traveling for a long period, and you find yourself homesick for your dog. By stopping into a dog café, you can enjoy the above mood-improving effects of petting other canines. 

Sure, those dogs can’t replace yours back home, but being around the dogs can ease that sadness you’ve been feeling until you can finally see your pup again.  


Dog cafés are a type of animal café that is hugely popular (although not as much so as cat cafés). You visit, pay a charge, and then you can play with and pet a variety of unique dog breeds. Some dog cafés can even introduce you to your next pet, as they offer adoption services! 

Whether you’re looking for a furry companion to add to your home or you just love dogs, a dog café should be on your shortlist of places to go!  

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