Bau Haus: Visiting The Dog Cafe in Seoul

dog cafe seoul

I gulped and slowly backed away towards the door. I wanted so badly to run, but I was too scared to even flinch. I closed my eyes and let the waves of nausea wash over me for a few minutes, gritting my teeth and clenching my sweaty palms behind my back.

I can do this. 

Gradually, I opened my eyes to peer out at the hundreds of demonic beings facing me. Teeth bared, hackles raised, they all snarled viciously in my direction. They could sense my fear and I watched in horror as one by one they took turns to launch themselves at the fragile wire fencing – the only thing that separated them from me.

My eyes widened in horror and I prepared myself for my impending death.

“Ahn Nyeong Hah Seh Yo!”, sings a beaming Korean teenager as she rushes over to open the metal fence.

She giggled as she playfully shooed away the ten dogs that were surrounding her and excitedly led myself and my friend to a free table.

As we sat down, I slowly exhaled and let out a nervous, foreign-sounding laugh. I was still alive. 

I was at the dog cafe in Seoul and I have a huge phobia of dogs. 

Dog at the Bau House in Seoul

Given the somewhat misleading name, the dog cafe is not a restaurant where you go to pick out that evening’s dinner. It is, in fact, a small coffee shop in the Hongdae district where people in Seoul go to grab a drink and hang out with friends, all while spending a few hours relaxing in the company of their new canine friends.

The owner of the cafe purchased twenty dogs of all different breeds to fill the cafe during the day and visitors are also encouraged to bring their own dogs along with them so that they can all play happily together.

As you can imagine, this rarely happens and the cafe frequently descends into complete and utter chaos. 

Lots of dogs at a dog cafe in Seoul

Although it may sound like a fun and exciting way to spend an afternoon, the overpowering scent of urine and the masses of dog hair floating around the cafe don’t exactly make it a particularly pleasant place to hang out.

Even before you reach the street that the dog cafe is on, the sound of barking, squealing and yelping fills the air, causing passersby to look up at the nearby buildings in confusion.

Having said that, I found myself adjusting to the unfamiliar situation remarkably quickly. After I had been there for about five minutes I no longer noticed the intense smell of ammonia and started to find it perfectly normal to have dogs of all shapes and sizes run across the table, jump into my lap and pee all around my feet.

Dog at Seoul's dog cafe

Once I was calm and my anxiety levels were back to normal, I discovered that the dog cafe is actually a fantastic place to people/dog watch. My friend and I ended up staying for over three hours and we were in hysterics for the entire time.

The scenes that unfolded around us were absolutely hilarious.  

There was the look of horror on the face of somebody entering the cafe for the first time – especially when they’re bringing their own dog along with them.

There were the terrified girls who had brought along their tiny puppy with them and were surprised to see it getting mauled by a dog two hundred times the size of it.

I especially loved the lady in the corner who had purchased three hundred bags of dog treats and never had less than twenty dogs surrounding her table at any one time.

Feeding dogs at a dog cafe

There was the ridiculously huge yet extremely elegant dog who refused to move for hours:

Best dog at a dog cafe in Seoul

And then there was the guy who brought along a whole range of outfits with him and spent hours dressing up random dogs and taking photos of them:

Dressing up a dog at a dog cafe

 Towards the end of my time there I even got over my phobia and held this particularly terrifying dog:

girl holding a dog at a dog cafe

I’ve always been a huge fan of themed restaurants so despite my fears I was never going to say no to having the opportunity to visit the dog cafe. The drinks were extremely overpriced but definitely worth it to sit in a smelly cafe, where it’s too noisy to hear your friend speak while being surrounded by piles of dog hair…

This place is perfect for residents of Korea who own dogs or for dog lovers who are too busy to have their own pet dog in Seoul. There’s even a cat cafe close by if dogs aren’t your cup of tea!

Bau Haus is open from 1.20 pm to 11.30 pm and is located between the subway stations Sangsu and Hongdae. 

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  1. Red Hunt
    December 23, 2011

    That is random and weird…the perfect type of travel experience! Glad you got over your fears, not sure I’d put up with the smell!

    • December 24, 2011

      I didn’t think I’d be able to handle the smell but after 5 or 10 minutes you didn’t notice it anymore.

      The people that work there must end up REEKING every single day….

  2. William
    December 23, 2011

    This sounds awesome, what a cool thing to experience.

    • December 24, 2011

      It was definitely something different!

  3. Gina
    December 23, 2011

    I love it! I would hang out there just to be with those lovely doggies!!

    • December 24, 2011

      Hahahaha, well you’re crazy then ;)

  4. Will - My Spanish Adventure
    December 24, 2011

    A lot of lovely bitches there!

    Sorry, someone had to say it.

    • December 24, 2011

      Surprised it took so long…!

  5. john
    December 23, 2011

    I’m familiar with cat cafes and they seem to be a better business model, what with cats not peeing all over and generally shedding less. However, I can imagine how even with all the pee and calamity being caused that this would still be quite a popular place for city dwellers who cannot have their own dogs.

    • December 24, 2011

      Hey John,

      I went to the cat cafe too and it was a lot more relaxing. I would definitely choose that over the dog cafe!

  6. Micamyx|Senyorita
    December 24, 2011

    What a unique place (or do they have lots of it in Korea?). I also have phobia on dogs although I love staring at them when I am not near them :) were you able to take a short video?

    • December 25, 2011

      I think they only have one of them in Korea. I don’t like looking at them or being near them!

      I should have taken a video, but didn’t think about it until after Id left.

  7. Anthony
    December 24, 2011

    I would LOVE to go here!! Very jealous indeed :)

    • December 25, 2011

      Hahaha, it was a lot of fun! :)

  8. Emily in Chile
    December 24, 2011

    I’ve only heard of cat cafes, but this sounds so much better! Well, pee smell aside, of course. I always miss my dog when I’m traveling, so I’d love to go and cuddle a pup or two over a cup of coffee.

    • December 25, 2011

      I went to the cat cafe in Seoul too and they both had pros and cons.

      That would be the perfect time to go to the dog cafe, they had lots of cute puppies!

  9. George
    December 24, 2011

    Being in that cafe is like my worst nightmare that or a baby cafe.

    I despise dogs, I’m not scared just hate them for all the reasons listed above.

    A cat cafe on the other hand now that’s something I could get on board with.

    • December 25, 2011

      Hahahahahaha! Oh god, a baby cafe would be a million times worse! Babies terrify me….

  10. cheryl
    December 24, 2011

    Ha ha ha! What a crazy cafe … I think I’d somehow do better with the cat cafes. I’d have fun watching the hilarity too. :)

    • December 25, 2011

      The cat cafes were a lot more chilled out :)

  11. Vi
    December 24, 2011

    I surprised people are allowed in to that cafe :D

    • December 25, 2011

      I was surprised it was allowed to open!

  12. James -
    December 24, 2011

    This cafe looks amazing. I have alway loved dogs, we had 3 growing up and it was always semi hectic so I imagine that cafe would be crazy!

    • December 25, 2011

      Yeah, you have no idea.. It was insane whenever somebody new would walk in!

  13. Claire @ Two4Travel
    December 24, 2011

    How cool is that! I want to go!!!
    I wonder what the FDA would have to say about that though! Haha!!

    • December 25, 2011

      I know, you definitely wouldn’t be able to have these cafes back home…

  14. Holgs
    December 24, 2011

    I read the title of this and thought you’d decided to take the Lauren vs food part a little bit far and actually try the national dish – thankfully you went to a place that has dogs as pets, not dogs as dinner!

    • December 25, 2011

      I did actually try to find dog to eat while I was there, but couldn’t find it anywhere!

      It’s funny how whenever I told anyone i went to the dog cafe they all immediately assumed that I would be eating the dogs, not eating with them!! :)

  15. cashflowmantra
    December 25, 2011

    Never had heard of a dog cafe. I suppose that is due to health laws and standards in the United States. Certainly an interesting concept, but not one that I would particularly enjoy. We have dogs but do not allow them near the table while eating.

    • January 3, 2012

      I know, there is no way we’d be able to have one open back home!

  16. Suzy
    December 26, 2011

    Wow! That man who brought the different costumes and dressed up the dogs sounds like he might have an interesting story. Does this place have food? I can’t imagine it would be that appetizing! I love dogs but not all over the table I’m eating and drinking.

    • January 3, 2012

      Yes, I wondered how frequently the costume man visited the dog cafe. Does he do it everyday? Does he run a website of elegantly dressed dogs? We’ll never know…

      I think it just sold coffee and smoothies. I definitely wouldn’t have ordered food to have a dog instantly trample and drool all over it!

  17. Fidel @IHarTravel
    December 26, 2011

    Is there anything you do not have a phobia of? Lol

    I remember we would shoosh our dog from jumping on the dining room chairs and trying to lick what is on the table. I can’t imagine going to a cafe that encourages this. You are a brave one.

    • January 3, 2012

      I have a lot of phobias haha.

      It was definitely an interesting experience…

  18. Audrey
    December 26, 2011

    I’ve heard of this place! I love the look of that rather large yet elegant dog on the sofa. He’s loving the attention. :D

    • January 3, 2012

      Isn’t he amazing?! He was nearly as tall as me when he stood up, but still managed to be graceful at all times!

  19. Amanda
    December 27, 2011

    Not sure if I could handle this. I’m not afraid of dogs, per se, but I really don’t like them at all. Give me the cat cafe anyday over this!

    • January 3, 2012

      …And even if you liked dogs, I’m not sure it would be too much fun to have them running across the table like madmen ;)

  20. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    December 28, 2011

    Your post made me think of the Dog Chapel in Vermont where people leave notes to their deceased canine friends. I’m a fan of dogs, but I’m not sure if I would like dog hair in my coffee.

    • January 3, 2012

      Hahahaha, oh wow, I haven’t heard of that before – and it’s now on my list of strange places to visit!

      You got dog hair EVERYWHERE!

  21. December 29, 2011

    I’ve heard of cat cafes like this, but dogs seem so much more intense! When a cat licks your face it’s cute… but when a massive dog comes at you with a drooling tongue it can be terrifying. I love dogs, though (and am missing my pup something fierce), so I’d probably spend a few hours here as well. :)

    • January 3, 2012

      Dogs are terrifying! Especially the big ones….

  22. Jade -
    December 30, 2011

    I hate dogs…. but not that much! Im more of a cat person. now a cat cafe…. that would be awesome

    • December 30, 2011

      There are many cat cafes in Japan… so you have now a new trip destination.

      • January 3, 2012

        Yes! There was one in Seoul too :)

    • January 3, 2012

      The cat cafe was much more relaxed!

  23. Jen
    January 2, 2012

    Haha a dog cafe has got to be one of the most mental buiness idea anyones ever come up with, can you imagine the train of thought behind it lol! I proper love dogs but mine crawl over me to try and lick my cup of tea whilst I’m drinking it so I duno how I’d cope with that many doin the same. Such a cute photo of your an the little puppy though!! Well done for facing your fear xxxx

    • January 3, 2012

      I KNOW! That’s what I couldn’t understand… Why would anyone think this would be an amazing idea?!

      It is popular though… Those crazy Koreans.

  24. Montecristo Travels
    January 14, 2012

    OMD – want to go SO badly!! this is amazing!!!! Wish we had this here in Ottawa. They really let the dogs have the run of hte place! wow.

    Glad I found you!

  25. February 22, 2012

    I’m ridiculously obsessed with dogs. I have never wanted to go to Korea before but this post has me rethinking that position…

  26. Dolores T. Campanelli
    May 5, 2018

    BAU House looks lovely! If I ever visit Seoul, I will definitely check this out. I love how the dogs can freely roam around and mingle with the customers. Thanks for sharing this!