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Best Dog Leashes

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 28 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 151 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best dog leashes

    Last Updated September 2018

    Keeping your dog safe is an important part of your job as a pet parent. Owning a quality leash is essential to that responsibility. A leash can keep your pup safely away from potential dangers. Furthermore, some states and cities require you to use a leash by law.

    Which type of leash is right for your four-legged friend? How do you choose a quality leash that offers a good value for the money? To point you in the right direction, we discussed leashes in depth with our pet expert, Nicole.

    Read on for our full guide to help you find the best dog leash. Then, when you're ready to buy a leash for your furry friend, take a look at our five favorites.

    If you opt for a chain leash, make sure the links are strong enough to hold your dog but not so thick that the leash feels excessively heavy or bulky.

    Types of dog leashes

    Standard leashes

    Standard dog leashes are the most popular kind. They have a clip at one end and a handle at the other.

    Most standard leashes are made from either nylon or leather. You can use them with a collar or a harness.

    Cost: Standard dog leashes usually cost between $5 and $30 depending on the length, thickness, material, and overall quality of the product.

    Retractable leashes

    Retractable leashes feature a long length of leash coiled inside the handle; the length extends when the dog pulls ahead. The leash can also be locked to a shorter length of your choice when you want your dog to stay close.

    A retractable leash affords your dog the chance to roam when you're walking in areas where he's not allowed off the leash. For instance, he may enjoy a greater sense of freedom on certain hiking trails or in public parks.

    That said, a retractable leash should always be securely locked at a short length when you’re walking your dog on the sidewalk or near a road. Otherwise, your dog could dart out into traffic and get injured.

    You should also be respectful of other people and dogs around you, since not everyone wants a dog barrelling toward them.

    Cost: An average retractable leash costs between $15 and $40.

    Nicole Ellis
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Nicole has been training animals for over 15 years, from bears and tigers to household dogs. A member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, she has been certified by the American Kennel Club as a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and she focuses on positive reinforcement methods so that training is always fun. Every year, Nicole attends SuperZoo, the largest pet product showcase, to research new pet products from cat litter to electric dog toys and she loves sharing what she finds with other pet parents.


    Nicole Ellis  |  Professional Pet Trainer

    Double-ended leashes

    Double-ended leashes are long – usually about twice the length of an average leash – with a clip on each end. They're designed to be used with front-clip harnesses to provide extra control and help prevent pulling. One clip goes on the back loop of the harness; the other goes on the front loop of the harness.

    For times when you don't want to use the front loop of the harness (for instance, when you want your dog to be able to roam and sniff), you can attach both clips to the back loop of the harness and use it like a regular leash.

    Cost: Expect to pay between $10 and $30 for a double-ended dog leash.

    Multi-dog leashes

    Multi-dog leashes have one handle with two or more clips that branch off of it. They're designed to make it easier to walk multiple dogs at once, so you only have to deal with one leash instead of several.

    Cost: Most multi-dog leashes cost between $10 and $20.

    Slip leashes

    Generally made of soft, padded nylon, a slip leash includes a collar that goes around your dog’s neck. The leash tightens when the dog pulls; a stopper prevents the leash from getting so loose that he can slip out.

    Because of the nature of slip leashes, they should only be used on dogs who walk calmly with a loose lead – and only by owners who know what they're doing with them.

    "You should have experience if you’re going to use this type of lead," Nicole says. "I would try to avoid it on dogs that pull or small dogs with small tracheas. A harness would be a better option for these pets to enjoy their walks. Slip leads are best used on dogs who walk calmly at your side. They’re also great to keep in the car as a backup leash, whether for your own pet or for helping capture a stray pet."

    Cost: Slip leashes cost $5 to $15 on average.

    Some leashes come with an area onto which you can clip a bag dispenser or light. These features can be very handy.

    Nicole
    Professional Pet Trainer

    Dog leash material

    Leashes are commonly found in nylon or leather.

    Nylon Dog Leashes

    “Nylon is lightweight, making it easy to bring along on adventures,” says Nicole. “It usually comes in a wide choice of colors. I love that nylon leashes are easy to clean and that they dry quickly.” However, Nicole cautions that for dogs who are chewers, nylon could be an issue.

    Leather Dog Leashes

    “Leather is wonderful,” says Nicole, “especially when you treat it well.” It’s a long-lasting choice, but proper maintenance is crucial, especially if your dog’s leash regularly gets wet or muddy.

    Other Dog Leash Materials

    You can also buy dog leashes made from chain with a leather or nylon handle. These leashes are great for hardcore chewers who would chomp their way through nylon or leather options.

    EXPERT TIP

    Some leash handles are lined with neoprene or a similar fabric, creating a soft, easy feel for the handle.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Leash length

    Most dog leashes measure somewhere between four and eight feet in length; six feet is the most common option.

    A six-foot leash gives your dog a bit of room to walk ahead, sniff, and explore fields or trails, but it isn't so long that you're left with an unwieldy amount of excess in areas where you need to keep your dog close.

    You can also buy much longer leashes of 10 to 20 feet. These are primarily used for training purposes.

    EXPERT TIP

    In a busy city, you may want a four-foot leash so your pet is right next to you. But while out hiking or going to the park, a six- to ten-foot leash will allow your dog to sniff and roam safely.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Leash clips

    Most leashes have either a bolt snap or a trigger snap clip.

    • Bolt snaps are the most common type of clip. A bar pulls down to open up the clip.

    • Trigger snap clips open inward, which means the tension when your dog pulls actually holds the clip in place with more force.
       

    While we do think trigger snap clips are slightly more secure, bolt snaps are good, too, just as long as you choose a leash with a sturdy clip that's the appropriate strength and thickness for the size of your dog.

    EXPERT TIP

    Look for a leash with a strong clip. If the clip breaks, the leash itself is worthless. If your dog sees something exciting, that clip needs to hold all of your dog’s weight when he pulls, whether he weighs five pounds or 100 pounds.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Leash color

    If you choose a leather leash, most options are either brown or black, although some exceptions exist.

    Nylon leashes, on the other hand, come in a wide range of colors and patterns.

    Although color should be secondary to quality, there's no harm in shopping around for a good leash that also happens to come in a color you like that suits your dog.

    Many pet parents choose to match their dog's leash to her collar and/or harness.

    EXPERT TIP

    Regularly check your dog’s leash for damage, and replace it if you notice any signs of fraying, ripping, or issues with the clip.


    Nicole Ellis  | Professional Pet Trainer

    Tips

    • Safety should be your number-one concern. Pick a leash that's safe to use at all times. "If you do a lot of night walking, look for one that is reflective or one that you can clip a light onto,” says Nicole.

    • Think about how comfortable your chosen leash is to hold. This is particularly important if your dog is a puller or you regularly walk him on the leash for hours at a time. Leashes made from soft, padded nylon webbing are by far the most comfortable option.

    • Consider the strength of your chosen leash. It should be of an appropriate strength for the size of your dog. As a rule, the thicker the leash, the stronger it is.

    • Check your leash after use. Make sure it isn't damaged. A damaged leash must be replaced right away, as it's more likely to break.

    Keep a spare leash on hand in case of emergencies. If your primary leash breaks, you could be left in an awkward situation, trying to get your dog home without a fully functioning leash.

    FAQ

    Q. Should I train my dog to walk on a loose leash?

    A. A dog will naturally pull on her leash unless you teach her otherwise. We'd absolutely recommend that you train your dog to walk on a loose leash using gentle positive reinforcement methods. If your dog can walk without pulling, it will make your outdoor adventures more pleasant and comfortable for both of you.

    Q. Does a puppy need a different type of leash than an adult dog?

    A. Puppies are, of course, smaller than adult dogs, so they need lighter, thinner leashes. While it can be tempting to buy one that's suitable for your pup's future adult size, a leash that is too heavy could be off-putting for a small puppy who is experiencing walking on a leash for the first time.

    Q. How can I make sure my dog leash lasts a long time?

    A. Keeping your dog leash clean and dry between uses can significantly extend its life. Most nylon leashes can be machine-washed and dry very quickly. And, Nicole advises, “Don’t leave the leash out where your pup may think it’s a chew toy.”

    The team that worked on this review
    • Amos
      Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Branson
      Branson
      Videographer
    • Ciera
      Ciera
      Production Assistant
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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