Dogs on Blue Flag Beaches – Are You “For” or “Against”?

Dogs on Blue Flag Beaches
Dogs on Blue Flag Beaches

As the ongoing debate concerning dogs on blue flags beaches rumbles on, each  party vehemently defending their point of view, I wonder who is right.

“My dogs loves playing in the sand.”
“Your dog craps in the sand and then kids build sand castles.”
“But I clear it up”
“You are one of the few. Besides, this beach has Blue Flag status and you are not allowed to bring your dog on the beach!”
“Tough! Who’s going to stop me…”

“My dog loves swimming in the sea.”
“Your dog is a nuisance.”
“No it’s not!”
“Yes it is, you have no control over it.”

“Your dog just cocked its leg over my picnic basket and clothes!”
“It’s never done that before.”
“Well it has now!”

“Dogs are not allowed on this beach.”
“My dog is part of the family.”
“Yes, and my family don’t want to be stepping in its pooh on the beach!”
“Some people are so anal…”

“Please will you control your dog!”
“It won’t hurt you.”
“I’m frightened of dogs, please…”
“Don’t be stupid.”

“People are smelly and noisy.”
“Oh, unlike dogs?”
“Yeah, people should be banned from beaches”

“Do you need glasses?”
“No, why?”
“Because that sign means no dogs allowed on this beach!”
“Tough, so what? My dog has every right to be here…”

Is a compromise the answer or should there be an enforced outright ban during the summer season?

Who enforces the rule?

Although the police/GNR enthusiastically clamp cars and issue hefty fines in car parks and roadside parking where “No Parking” signs are displayed, the no dog rule is ignored. I don’t mind dogs if they are kept on a lead, but they are usually not and the beach becomes one big doggy toilet.

While the rules for Blue Flag status suggest:

The beach must be clean.


Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.

unfortunately this is not always the case because dog owners blatantly ignore signs:

No dogs allowed on this beach
No dogs allowed on this beach


No dogs
No dogs

Regardless of language the signs are pretty clear, so why do people choose to ignore them? Dogs can’t read and no doubt view the beach as an exciting place with lots of nice doggy smells and an opportunity to splash in the sea.

Blue Flag
Blue Flag

What is The “Blue Flag”?

The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3850 beaches and marinas in 48 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.

To qualify for Blue Flag status beaches must comply with certain criteria in the following categories:

1. Environmental Education and Information
2. Water Quality
3. Environmental Management
4. Safety and Services

More information available at

Blue Flag beaches in Portugal

There are currently 279 beaches in Portugal with Blue Flag status.

Algarve (69)
Alentejo (25)
Centro Portugal (27)
Tejo (50)
Northern Portugal (67)


Please share your views in the comments below and/or please take a vote!


32 thoughts on “Dogs on Blue Flag Beaches – Are You “For” or “Against”?

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  1. No, no, no! “Dogs are a major reservoir for zoonotic infections. Dogs transmit several viral and bacterial diseases to humans. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted to human by infected saliva, aerosols, contaminated urine or feces and direct contact with the dog. Viral infections such as rabies and norovirus and bacterial infections including Pasteurella, Salmonella, Brucella, Yersinia enterocolitica, Campylobacter, Capnocytophaga, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Coxiella burnetii, Leptospira, Staphylococcus intermedius and Methicillin resistance staphylococcus aureus are the most common viral and bacterial zoonotic infections transmitted to humans by dogs. This review, focused on the mentioned infectious diseases by describing general information, signs and symptoms, transmission ways, prevention and treatment of the infection. As far as the infections are concerned, the increase of the knowledge and the awareness of dog owners and the general population regarding zoonotic infections could significantly mitigate zoonoses transmission and consequently their fatal complications.” (

    Liked by 1 person

  2. to be honest, I am not surprised that No (I am a dog owner) are 30.14%. Most dog owners do not picked up after their dog’s poop at all. I had a dog of 14 years and I think dogs on beaches is a yes because you should pick poop up after dog was done with it. Again, the dog owner who do not picked up after dog’s poop shouldn’t have a dog because that is not called Dog lover. I respected my dog with greatly love and affectionate. A dog deserve better than human being. Yes, a dog must have a beach to enjoy and have fun and most of all to pick up after poop too. It is a must. To make everyone happy at beach as well as dogs. To the dog owners, if you do not pick up poop after your dog then you have no respect for people and to the dogs too. Please pick up after dog’s poop because its disgusting to leave it anywhere including the beach. Earth is supposed to be beautiful and clean. You clean up yourself, right ? Then clean up the dog’s poop so that people can be happy and can welcome dogs to the beach that way. Again, I picked up after dog’s poop everyday for 14 years because I loved dog very much and I want to make people happy and pleased to see me doing that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been a dog owner most of my life. I don’t take my dog where there are lots of people. Oh I might take her on a hike, on her leash. But I wouldn’t even think of taking her to a public beach. First of all that would be way too much stimulation for her. Plus not everyone likes dogs and some people are afraid of dogs. Who am I to interfere with someone’s leisure time by annoying them, for whatever the reason, with the presence of my dog. And don’t get me going on the poop and pee issue. And guess what? This life-long dog owner does not want to meet your dog, off leash, anywhere she goes. So, blue flag or not, respect people enough to let them enjoy a place without your dog. Ok, so obviously I. Have strong feelings about this.


  4. Willow loves the beach and we take her for walks on it as often as possible. We are responsible dog owners. We always keep her on a leash unless the beach is totally empty of people. We always clean up after her. If everyone were as responsible, I don’t think most people would have an issue with dogs on the beach, but unfortunately, most people aren’t responsible.


  5. It’s just awful to find your chlld playing in the sand next to dog poop or to find yourself lying on a towel next to it let alone treading in it barefoot. There are always dog owners that don’t clear up after their dog. It’s ok in winter but not in summer. Sorry dogs.


  6. I am amazed that the authorities have not latched on to the opportunity to fine dog owners for ignoring the NO DOG signs. They are quick to clamp and fine people for not parking their cars in designated parking spots especially at our Local Blue Flag Beach.


  7. I love my dogs but I don’t take them to the beach in the summer months. We only walk there after the bathing season is over and I pick up after them. I have also seen the lifeguards telling people with dogs that they can’t be on the beach, which is as it should be.


  8. Do you know that throughout a long day of work and being a a very logical and lawful person, i could not make up my mind!! My father was a very senior army lawyer, I don’t break the law, but, being the inveterate dog lover I am ~ if a dog is allowed where I am allowed and I am responsibly in charge of the said animal . . .and I clean up where it has been . . . yes, well, there ARE a few ‘if’s 🙂 ! I have never heard of ‘blue flag’ beaches in Australia: daresay it is my ignorance but hope there are not so many . . .


    1. Hi Eha Australia has no need for Blue Flag beaches . In my experience they have dedicated doggy beaches (where there is a supply of pooh bags and bins) and the locals all adhere to this- one would never ever see a dog and its owner flouting these rules.


  9. In my opinion one cannot deny the differences in which the British (English) and the Portuguese view things. We English, in general, are used to our well ordered, manicured and, if analysed closely, our stiflingly, authoritarian and politically correct nanny State where the Middle Classes would never dream of deviating from the parallel guidelines of rules handed down to them from above. On the other hand the Portuguese, in my experience, are more relaxed about most things and advocate a live and let live attitude regardless of most diktats from the Administration and common sense prevails on a local level. I love the Portuguese attitude. That’s why I am here!

    Why is it that some British insist on bringing Britain to Portugal? Why spoil everything that is good?

    So you don’t like dogs on beaches? Live with it,it’s the Portuguese way.


    1. Hey Phil, it’s nothing to do with what I or anyone else thinks. It’s the Blue flag org that sets the criteria, and if the Portuguese, or indeed any other country flies the blue flag on their beaches, then they should comply. To be honest, I have Portuguese friends and they have been the first to complain and tell their fellow countrymen where to go, so no it’s not the Portuguese way it’s your interpretation of the Portuguese way as a Brit.

      If you feel it’s okay for dogs to pooh on Blue Flag beaches, that’s your opinion and I respect it.

      We need to respect our environment, not abuse it. I do not have a problem with dogs other than where they leave their calling cards, especially when I’m walking with bare feet or children are playing in the sand.


    2. “…the Portuguese, in my experience, are more relaxed about most things and advocate a live and let live attitude regardless of most diktats from the Administration…”

      You are kidding – the Portuguese toe the line more than the Brits. Haven’t you seen them dutifully stop at the speed restriction red lights, or wondered why they never cross a white line in the centre of the road? They fill in Guias de Transport – can you imagine the Brits doing that before venturing on the M25? Not a chance. Or obtaining licences to sell old clothes at a jumble sale?

      Anything that is regulated they obey the rules. It’s just that there are some areas where the rules are not enforced – like parking on pavements and having noisy dogs that foul all over the place.


    3. In this instance Phil the British are as much to blame for ignoring No Dog signs as well as the Portuguese and many other nationalities. In my opinion
      the local Authorities should either take the sign down or enforce its message, so unsuspecting parents will not subject their children to building sand castles with contaminated sand.


  10. I have two dogs and always clear up after them, but you can’t clear up “pipi” and I understand that not everyone likes dogs or wants to share their space with them. Am happy to walk them on separate beaches and usually it’s only the summer months that restrict dogs from the beaches.


      1. Ooh, I don’t know – perhaps in Nerja and in the posh bits towards Marbella but on our local beaches, people don’t take their dogs in summer, so neither do we. Not sure if it’s a rule or just out of respect. Here in England (where we are now) there is a big section for familes and no dogs allowed Mar-Sep but plenty of dog friendly beaches too and a long “prom” where you can let them off the lead. Something for everyone!


    1. There are beaches which are not designated as Blue Flag, but unfortunately, they are not as accessible. For the majority of beaches it’s only the summer season where dogs are not allowed unless a local rule applies, I’ve been told.


  11. I voted. I used to have a dog and walked him on the beach (only in winter when it was quiet) and of course cleaned up after him. I think Blue Flag beaches should be protected but it’s all down to the owner and as you know, a lot of dogs roam free in Portugal, which spoils it for the ‘well-behaved’ pooch!


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