Buying a dog leash at a pet store can feel overwhelming, but choosing the right
leash can make a world of difference in your dogs walking, training, and hiking.
The right leash for your pup is ultimately a personal preference, but there are
some things you can look for to make sure that what you're buying is a high
Types of Dog Leashes
Most dog leashes belong in one of two categories: standard or retractable.
Standard leashes come in an unlimited palette of colors and styles and can be
made from natural materials like leather or rope as well as synthetics, like
nylon or biothane. These are what most people think of when you say "dog leash"
and typically range from 4' to 8' in length.
Standard leashes are the optimal choice for most dog owners. Whether you just
got a new puppy and are buying a leash for the first time, or you're looking
for a new leash for training, a standard rope, leather, or nylon leash is a
Retractable leashes on the other hand, are specially made to retract inside of a
plastic handle without putting too much slack on the line. These leashes are
somewhat controversial, as grabbing the leash while your dog runs away has been
known to cause severe rope burns. Similarly, retractable leashes can slow down
your dog's leash training by confusing them about how long the leash actually
is, and can hurt them if stopped too suddenly.
They are convenient for walks where you'd like to let your dog explore, but as
with any leash, supervision is required to make sure nobody gets hurt or tangled.
Retractable leashes are better for adult dogs and dogs with good leash manners.
No matter if you're buying a leash for training or for a quick walk at the park,
there are some simple things to look for to make sure that what you're getting
is of high quality.
First, take a look at the hardware, and by "hardware" we mean the snap that
connects your dogs leash to his collar. There are many types of snaps, from
simple swivel bolts to fancy "U-sleeve" and spring loaded snaps, but what really
matters (especially if you're the owner of a large dog) is the metal the snap
is made from.
We prefer leashes that use brass or aluminum hardware over nickel. Brass in
particular resists corrosion much better than other metals and holds up well
against moisture and salt.
Cheap snaps can bend or break (and often do) at the worst possible times, so if
you want a good leash it's good advice to start with good hardware. Second to
hardware is the material used for the leash itself. While there are some
practical benefits to quality materials, it really comes down to what you
like - so we've put together a list of benefits for some of the most common
Biothane is a synthetic material and a great alternative to leather with none
of the upkeep! Biothane doesn't crack if it gets wet and wont pick up thorns
like natural materials and is a favorite among police officers, dog trainers,
and search and rescue teams for it's durability.
Leather leashes wear beautifully, but can be expensive. Leather is also a
favorite chew for young puppies, and for that reason we recommend waiting to
buy a leather leash until your dog is older. Make sure the leash you buy is
advertised as "genuine" leather, and not "PU Leather" which is a leather-like
plastic, not the real thing!
Nylon is a great choice for new puppy owners and the owners of small dogs.
They're the go-to synthetic leash for just about every occassion, but care is
required to make sure they don't knot or harden if exposed to water. Nylon
comes in different textures, and while flat nylon is more popular, braided
nylon is preferable for its strength and softness.
Rope leashes are an excellent choice for hiking and walks, and often feature
upgraded hardware and features like adjustable o-rings. Rope leashes are soft
and usually resistant to water and debris but may pick up burrs in deep grass,
depending on how its made.
Adjustable leashes can be clipped in different places to make them shorter. This
isn't a true retractable leash, but for many dog owners it provides all the same
benefits. Adjustable leashes can be made of any material, but are most commonly
made of nylon or rope.
"Flexi" is a brand of retractable leash that is often used interchangeably to
refer to any leash that has a plastic handle with a button that can lock the
leash, and retract it automatically. Flexi-leads are great for well-trained dogs
that need a little bit of extra space on their walks, but we recommend basic &
leash training to introduce your dog to the flexi-lead.
The Right Dog Leash
In addition to quality make sure to take into consideration how you want to use
your dog leash. For example, if you plan on taking your dog hiking a lot in the
summer, you may not want to get a leather leash, which will crack if not
properly conditioned. On the other hand, a flexi-lead may not be appropriate for
a dog training class where dogs are expected to stick close by and pay
If this is your first dog (or your first dog leash) we recommend sticking to
something simple, like a 6' nylon or rope leash. Standard leashes are suitable
for every occasion and a quality one will be sure to last many years.