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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

31 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
140 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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best retractable dog leashes

Last Updated June 2019

A walk is your dog’s time to explore the neighborhood, sniff all the best smells, and have some freedom to roam. But if you can't let your dog off the leash, it’s restricted as to where it can go. With a retractable dog leash, your four-legged friend can have some extra room to wander without having to stick right by your side.

Not all retractable leashes are equal in quality, so you must arm yourself with the knowledge you need to pick the right one for you and your pet. How do you find out what you need to know? By reading our full guide to retractable dog leashes!

If you’re ready to buy a high-quality, safe retractable dog leash, check out our favorites, and you'll truly be your dog's best friend.

A quality retractable dog leash should have a sturdy retracting mechanism that won't fail over time.

Key considerations

Why buy a retractable dog leash?

You might be wondering if a retractable dog is right for you and why you should buy one. Here are just a handful of the advantages of these devices:

  • A retractable dog leash lets your dog wander in open spaces while still on the leash, particularly important if your area has leash laws.

  • You can use a retractable leash to safely practice the recall command.

  • You can maintain better control of a dog that can't safely run off leash due to aggression toward other dogs or poor obedience to the recall command.

  • A retractable dog leash is useful for late-night walks when you can't safely let your dog off leash due to the potential for unseen hazards.

Single vs. double

Although the vast majority of retractable dog leashes are single leashes, you can find a small number of double retractable leashes, with two leashes coming from one handle. If you want to walk two dogs at once, you might find it easier to do so with a double retractable leash, since two singles would be too bulky to hold in one hand, and you might sometimes need a spare hand to open gates or pick up poop. That said, double retractable leashes aren’t as strong as single leashes and are only suited for smaller pooches. A quality double model should have separate locking mechanisms for each leash, ideally color coded so you can remember which one's which.

Length

Retractable dog leashes vary in length from about 10 to 30 feet. Although you might believe longer is better, that isn't always the case. Retractable leashes that are too long give you less control, and it's more difficult to make sure your dog stays safe when it’s 30 feet away. We'd generally recommend a leash around 15 to 18 feet long for most users because you still have a fair amount of control while giving your four-legged friend some room to roam. And your dog will never be too far from you when you need to call it back. Retractable leashes longer than this are better suited for use in wide-open spaces with few other people around.

Width

It's important to consider the width of the leash. Some retractable dog leashes have a flat tape leash while others have a thin cord. We'd recommend a tape leash over a cord because cord leashes aren't as strong and are also more likely to cause injury if someone gets wrapped up in the leash or you accidentally grab it instead of using the brake mechanism. Even tape leashes aren't all of equal quality. You'll generally find tape leashes that are 0.5 to 1.5 inches in width. Wider leashes are significantly stronger and more durable overall.

Maximum dog weight

Retractable dog leashes have a maximum weight that they're capable of holding. Small retractable leashes might only hold dogs up to 40 pounds, while some extra-large models are safe for dogs up to 150 pounds. It's important to stick to these limits because a large dog might be able to break the leash if it pulled hard.

EXPERT TIP

Always keep your retractable leash short and in a locked position when walking your dog near a road or other hazards.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Never grab the fabric leash to stop your dog because it can cause serious friction burns and deep cuts. Use the brake button instead.


Staff  | BestReviews

Retractable dog leash features

Braking and locking mechanism

A retractable dog leash should have a brake to stop your dog from extending the leash any farther and a locking mechanism to lock the leash at a particular length (even when you take your thumb off the brake). The best retractable leashes should let you brake and lock with just one thumb because this is easier and safer when you don't have a free hand.

Handle

Opt for a retractable dog leash with a comfortable, ergonomic handle. This will keep you more comfortable while holding your pooch, especially on very long walks, and you’ll be less likely to lose your grip.

Color

For the most part, the color of the leash or handle isn't particularly important, though you might as well select a color that you like if there are different choices available. Some retractable leashes are brightly colored for extra visibility, which is useful for nighttime walks.

Waste bag clip

Some retractable dog leashes have a D-ring for attaching a waste bag holder (or anything else with a clip). While this is in no way an essential feature, it can be a nice convenience.

DID YOU KNOW?

You can find retractable dog leashes with reflective parts for walking in low-light or low-visibility conditions.

Retractable dog leash prices

The main variable that affects the price of retractable dog leashes is the maximum weight limit, though the overall leash length can be a factor, too.

Small dogs: Models designed for small dogs generally cost between $10 and $15.

Medium dogs: Retractable leashes for medium-size dogs generally cost between $15 and $25.

Large dogs: If you've got a large dog, expect to pay between $20 and $50 for a suitable retractable dog leash.

Tips

  • Look for a tangle-free retractable dog leash. This feature stops the leash from getting twisted and tangled as it retracts back into the handle.

  • Be aware of your surroundings when using a retractable leash. Keep the leash in a locked position with your dog right next to you if there are any hazards around.

  • Bring a backup leash. Just in case your retractable leash fails to retract or the locking mechanism breaks, it’s a good idea to carry a regular leash, too.

  • Teach your dog the limits of the retractable leash. Your dog should know how far the leash extends and that it can't go any farther. You don't want your dog to run and jerk when they reach the end of the leash or to constantly pull 30 feet ahead of you.

Other products we considered

We did a huge amount of research to find our top five retractable dog leashes and found other excellent options that didn't quite earn one of our top spots. These great leashes are also worth considering. Flexi is perhaps the biggest name in retractable dog leashes, and it's clear why. The Flexi Giant Tape Leash is an extremely sturdy, well-made option that's suitable for large, heavy dogs. The bright yellow tape improves visibility, though at 26 feet it might be too long for some. Another great choice for large dogs is the Tuff Pupper Heavy-Duty Retractable Dog Leash, which can hold canines that weigh up to 120 pounds. The 1.4-inch tape has reflective detailing all the way down its 16-foot length. The TUG 360° Tangle-Free Retractable Dog Leash has several excellent features that make it a pleasure to use, such as the any-angle control, comfortable grip, tough impact-resistant casing, and one-handed locking mechanism. Last but not least we have the Ruff 'n Ruffus Retractable Dog Leash with a 16-foot maximum length and 100-pound maximum dog weight. The quick and responsive brake easily locks in place.

Some retractable dog leashes have seemingly impressive lifetime guarantees, but we wouldn't let this sway you. The warranties are often used as marketing gimmicks, even on poor-quality leashes.

FAQ

Q. Are retractable dog leashes safe?

A. There are dangers associated with retractable dog leashes, but these are due to misuse rather than the leashes themselves. Learn to use one safely and you shouldn't have any issues. Always keep your retractable leash short and locked when walking on the sidewalk or anywhere within the leash's distance of a road. It only takes a split second for your dog to run into traffic if it spots something irresistible on the other side of the road, and your reflexes probably won't be quick enough to hit the brake in time. Also keep the leash short and locked when your pooch meets other dogs or it might get wrapped up in the leash, which could cause cuts or friction burns.

Q. Should my dog wear a harness or a collar with a retractable dog leash?

A. We'd generally recommend using a harness rather than a collar with a retractable dog leash. You should avoid letting your dog run and jerk to a stop at the end of the leash, but it's much less likely to cause injury if the leash is attached to a harness.

Q. Are retractable leashes suited to all dogs?

A. A retractable leash isn't necessarily right for every dog. As a rule, it's best to avoid using a retractable leash with a particularly excitable dog that might get injured by running full tilt and jerking its neck at the end of the lead or injure others by tangling them up in the leash. And dogs that habitually pull on a regular leash aren’t good candidates for retractable leashes.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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