Best Outdoor Dog Chains

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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.Read more 
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How we decided

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

30 Models Considered
14 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for Best outdoor dog chains

Keeping a dog cooped up inside the house all day may be impractical for any number of reasons. And given our hectic lifestyles, we can’t always find the time to walk a dog several times a day. This is where outdoor dog chains can help.

These chains provide the outside time your dog needs for exercise and other essentials (a.k.a. potty time) and can be an integral element in maintaining your pet’s overall wellbeing. Outdoor dog chains are also more affordable than solutions like fencing or kennels and can be safer and more effective.

This buying guide covers all that you need to know before purchasing an outdoor dog chain. From chain types and sizes to various features such as coatings and clips, we break down the considerations that go into finding the perfect chain for your needs. We also cover what you should expect to pay for a decent outdoor dog chain. When you’re ready to buy, don’t forget to check out our favorite outdoor dog chains in terms of quality, features, and cost.

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While not standard, some outdoor dog chains do include a warranty, with one year of protection being average.

Key considerations

Outdoor dog chain types

There are a number of different outdoor dog chains to choose from, including simple tie-outs, tie-outs with stakes or anchors, and trolley tie-outs.

  • Simple tie-outs: These are usually in the form of a single cable with a clip on each end. This allows you to fasten one end to your dog’s collar, while the other can be looped around a tree, post, or other object in your yard.
  • Tie-outs with stakes/anchors: These extend the simple tie-out option by adding a stake or other type of anchor that is screwed or hammered into the ground. Some owners prefer this type of chain as it allows them to set up the chain without the need for a tree or post.
  • Trolley tie-outs: This outdoor dog chain type involves a cable stretched between two points in your yard (like between your house and a tree) and positioned several feet off the ground. A pulley with a tie-out chain attached is added to the cable, so your dog can easily run the length of the cable with little danger of becoming tangled up. A trolley tie-out can be considerably more expensive than a simple tie-out and will require more time to set up.

Dog size

From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, dogs can be found in a variety of sizes, and the best outdoor dog chain manufacturers cater to this with a variety of chains geared toward different size dogs. When shopping for an outdoor dog chain, be sure to weigh your dog first and shop accordingly.

Chain length

The longer the outdoor dog chain, the more space your dog will have to roam around. There are, however, a few factors to consider here. If you have less space, a longer chain will only increase the possibility that your dog will hopelessly tangle the chain. Measure your space carefully before deciding on a length. The best length will allow your dog to explore as much of the space or yard as possible, without having a ton of excess slack. Longer chains will also benefit larger dogs more than they will smaller dogs.

The majority of manufacturers offer a variety of chain lengths for you to choose from. Outdoor dog chains typically range from 25 to 100 feet in length.

Weather resistance

Outdoor dog chains vary in their ability to handle both rain and cold. Chains that are galvanized will hold up to rain and snow better, as will those that have been coated with some form of protective layer. The majority of outdoor dog chains offer some form of protection, typically a vinyl coating.

However, some chains just do better in cold weather than others and therefore last longer. If you live in an area with harsh winter conditions, search for outdoor dog chains that are better rated for the cold.

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Did You Know?
In general, the larger the dog, the longer and more durable the outdoor chain should be.
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Features

Chain material

The chain part of an outdoor dog chain should be made from some form of stainless steel to protect it from rust. Stainless steel is also smooth, so any exposed parts of the chain won’t hurt your dog. In addition to a coating, some chains are also made from galvanized steel to offer additional protection from the elements.

Coating

The majority of outdoor dog chains feature some form of protective coating, usually vinyl. This coating provides a number of benefits. A coating can help to keep water off the chain and protect it from rust and corrosion. It can limit abrasions caused by the chain rubbing against a dog’s skin or coat. A coating can also help keep the chain from tangling up.

A coating should not crimp or crack, and it should hold up to a dog’s attempt to chew through it. Some coatings also offer UV protection.

Clips

At each end of the typical outdoor dog chain are clips that can be attached to the dog’s collar and whatever you are anchoring the dog to, like a tree, post, or stake. Clips are typically the weakest part of these types of chains, so you should pay special attention to them when purchasing a chain.

Clips should be made from steel or brass and be both durable and rust-resistant. Try to stick with clips that swivel 360 degrees as these can move with your dog better and help reduce tangles.

Stakes

Some tie-outs include stakes, providing you with some versatility when you are trying to decide where to anchor your chain. These stakes are typically in the form of large corkscrews that are screwed into the ground. A stake should be durable – preferably made from a rust-resistant material such as stainless steel – and long enough to hold fast when inserted into the ground. Stakes may not be as effective in looser, sandier soil.

If a stake was not included with your outdoor dog chain and you wish to try one, individual stakes can be easily found online.

Color

Some outdoor dog chains come in a variety of colors. The coloring here is typically limited to the vinyl coating. In addition to personal preference, the choice of color can also have a practical purpose. A bright or reflective color will cause the chain to stand out from your lawn, helping you more easily locate your dog with a simple glance out your window.

A simple tie-out or a tie-out with a stake is a great solution for keeping a dog safe while traveling or camping.

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Outdoor dog chain prices

Outdoor dog chains start out at around $10 and can reach $20 or more. The average price is in the $13 to $18 range.

At the low end, you will find shorter chains (15 to 25 feet) with a less durable build. These chains typically are simple tie-outs with less sturdy clips and are often best suited for smaller breeds.

In the $13 to $18 range, you will find outdoor dog chains for medium dogs that average around 50 to 75 feet in length. While mainly simple tie-outs, some chains in this range include stakes.

For $20 and up, you will find outdoor dog chains with the strongest builds. These chains are extremely durable and often reach 100 feet in length with a 200-pound weight limit. Galvanized steel is more common in this range, and more advanced tie-outs such as trolley systems are also found here.

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Did You know?
In addition to protecting both the chain and the dog’s coat, a vinyl coating on an outdoor dog chain can also help keep the chain from becoming easily tangled.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • If you use a stake with your outdoor dog chain, be sure to check it often to verify that it is secure. Dogs can work at these stakes over time, loosening them to the point where the stake can pull out of the ground.
  • Outdoor dog chains are not a “tie up your dog and go to work” type of solution. For optimum safety, be sure to keep an eye on your dog when using an outdoor chain.
  • An outdoor dog chain is one of those items that can be cheaply mass-produced, so be careful when shopping for one. Be sure to read through the online reviews before purchasing.
  • Some outdoor dog chains are galvanized. Galvanizing steel adds a layer of protection that can help ward off rust. If you live in a particularly wet climate, consider going with a galvanized chain.
  • A highly visible chain will not only allow you to better keep track of your dog, but it will also quickly alert anyone entering your yard to your dog’s presence.
  • If you’re buying a stake to use with a tie-out, be sure it has some form of vinyl or rubber coating on the handle. This will make the handle easier to screw in and help protect it from the elements and other abuse.
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Outdoor dog chains are an affordable way for high-energy dogs to burn off excess energy.

FAQ

Q. What can outdoor dog chains be attached to?

A. While one end will clip to your dog’s collar, there are a variety of objects you can attach the other clip to. A simple tie-out can be looped around a tree, post, or other support, and then clipped to itself. It can also be attached to an eye hook that you’ve screwed into an outer wall, or it can be attached to a stake. You can also attach dog chains to a trolley or cable system. Wherever you attach it, try to keep the chain away from other outdoor items, such as patio furniture, to cut down on tangles.

Q. Is an outdoor dog chain safe to use with my dog?

A. Generally speaking, yes, but not as an all-day solution. An outdoor dog chain can offer you more control over your dog than letting Fido run free in a fenced yard. An outdoor chain can also be a better fit for dogs who are able to jump over or tunnel under a fence. When using an outdoor dog chain, be sure to keep a close eye on your dog to quickly help with any tangles or other potential problems.

Q. Will outdoor dog chains work for small-breed dogs?

A. Absolutely, but there are a couple of points to note before using chains with smaller dogs. The first is that outdoor chains are often designed with larger dogs in mind, so try to find a chain specifically geared toward smaller dogs. A chain that is shorter in length and lighter in weight will be better for a smaller dog.

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