As we get closer to summer, the chore of walking the dog becomes less of a drag. The weather is beautiful, the park is green, and it’s nice to be outside for awhile with your pup. If you’re like me and live in the city, it’s pretty much mandatory to have your dog on a leash in public. Most communities have leash laws, really, so if the leash you have for your dog is making it unpleasant to walk them, it’s time to upgrade. There are many fine leashes in various styles to choose from, each accentuating a different function. Some leashes come with features that will actually help you walk your dog.
When selecting a leash, you have to take a few things into account. The standard leash will do the job in most situations, and we’ve included a few on this list that fit that bill while being a bit more interesting than the traditional nylon leash.
For example, I have a relatively long husky mix. The everyday six-foot leash is just a bit too short to comfortably walk him, but he’s also somewhat wild and a consistent puller, so the added control is necessary. By contrast, my shar pei mix is an extremely good walker who stays always to my left side about eight to ten feet ahead at all times. He doesn’t zig zag or change direction on a whim, so I use the Flexi leach below for him.
Those extra-long retractable leashes should really be reserved for well-behaved dogs, both for your dog’s safety and for the safety of others. Don’t be surprised if you choose the retractable leash and get more than a few glares if your dog isn’t under control. In the case of my husky, he zig zags constantly and would almost certainly get himself hit by a car on the shar pei’s leash. If your dog is extra crazy, you might appreciate the added control of the two-handled options below.
Dog length, strength, and behavior are all important factors to consider when leash shopping. So, too, is the goal of the leash — is this for training, everyday walking, or another purpose? I can tell you from experience that owning at least two styles of leash comes in handy.
If the arrival of warmer weather has you looking for a new leash, start here with our top ten best dog leashes.
1. Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash
Is your dog a bruiser? Could their sheer willpower easily defeat any normal nylon leash? This might be the one for you. Inspired by ultra-tough climbing gear, this leash is made of kernmantle rope, which is also used for parachute cords. This is meant for dogs who easily wear through leashes of lesser material. It has an easy-to-hold tubular handle, as well as a loop just below it for accessories like lights or pick-up bags.
The attachment mechanism is a locking carabiner that will ensure a strong connection to your dog. Reflective trim is woven into the rope material to improve visibility. Available in both small and large thicknesses (both 60 inches in length) as well as four colors: Blue Spring, Obsidian Black, Purple Dusk, and Red Currant.
2. Pawtitas Reflective Padded Dog Leash
If visibility is important, this Pawtitas reflective model might be a good option. The medium-large version is an inch wide, while the one for smaller pups is 5/8 of an inch — both wide enough to ensure good durability and provide enough surface area for the reflective stripe sewn into it. An excellent leash to use at dawn and dusk, it comes in a wide assortment of colors including black, blue, green, orange, pink, purple, orchid, red, and teal. A good, standard leash option with added usability.
Price: $14.99 – $16.99
3. Flexi New Classic Retractable 26 Foot Dog Leash
Far and away my favorite leash, this Flexi model is the one I use for my shar pei mix. The large model is made for dogs up to 110 pounds and extends up to 26 feet. I can attest that the locking mechanism is smooth and reliable, much more so than the push-push design other retractable leashes use. I’ve been using mine for four years now without any hint that it’s wearing down. A lot of pick-up bag holders won’t fit over the handle and it lacks an accessory loop, but if you get one with Velco straps, you’ll be good to go.
I had a chance to review the Flexi alongside both the Kong Essential Tape Retractable Dog Leash and the TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash. Since the key feature is the brake mechanism, the Flexi is by far the winner. The brake is smooth and effective, while the lock requires just a small extension and flick of the tip of the thumb. It’s solid, clear to indicate that it’s locked, and didn’t disengage under heavy tugging from my husky puppy.
By contrast, the Kong was by far the worst. It uses a lock oriented opposite that of the Flexi, which means you have to extend beyond it to push the brake. It was inconsistent to lock and frequently popped open under tugging. The TaoTronics placed right in the middle. The brake and lock are one button — simply press forward on the brake to lock it. It held just as well as the Flexi, but the brake travel was shorter and not as smooth.
In terms of material construction, the TaoTronics was the cheapest feeling of the three yet still extremely solid. It also seemed unnecessarily oversized and was the largest of the three. The Kong has a ruggedized exterior with rubber and textured plastic that resisted damage far better than the other two. The Flexi feels like a higher grade of plastic, but still scratched and gouged more easily than the others.
Both the TaoTronics and the Flexi had excellent, taut retraction and very rarely tangled, while the Kong was slower to retract and often tangled. The TaoTronics and the Flexi both had comfortable handles, but I really didn’t like the rubber handle of the Kong. The TaoTronics has some less-than-appealing graphics, especially compared to the high-end look of the Flexi. That said, the TaoTronics is cheap at only $16.99, so if the price of the Flexi has you hesitating, it’s quite a solid offering if you can overlook a couple of design missteps and don’t need all 26 feet.
4. Mighty Paw BungeeX2 Double Dog Leash
Naturally, if you have two dogs, you’ll need two leashes, right? Not quite. This clever bungee system is the best dog leash for walking two dogs without the hassle of getting tangled. Available in three sizes, this leash relies on a swivel attachment just above the split to seamlessly join two dogs to one leash handle. The bungee function helps to absorb some of the tugging that is certain to come from walking two dogs at once.
As an added bonus, they include a wall hook for storing the leash. This leash also includes reflective material woven into the weatherproof nylon, but only comes in black.
Price: $17.99 – $24.99
5. Walky Dog Plus Hands Free Dog Bicycle Exerciser Leash
If walking isn’t so much your thing and you’d rather ride, there’s a leash for that, too. Again making use of paracord, this system attaches securely to your bike and provides enough length that your dog can run along beside you safely. Installation takes only a few minutes and includes a shock absorbing system that will help prevent unnecessary tugs from both sides. This is especially good for high-energy dogs, as the pace of the workout will be more intense. If your pupper is currently displaying signs of pent up energy, try this solution to increase their exercise.
Price: $58.95 (40 percent off MSRP)
6. Tuff Mutt Hands Free Dog Leash
As with biking, runners and joggers can’t be impeded by normal leashes. Your exercise routine is just as important as your dog’s, but if a bike isn’t involved, this option will work for you. Designed as a belt, the leash portion glides on a clip to provide more ease of motion both you and your dog. The leash portion itself is 48 inches and includes a bungee that extends to 60 inches, giving you even more flexibility. The design of this model is entirely focused on letting you and your dog keep in stride for the duration of the outing.
Available in green and gray, coral and gray, and gray and blue, this leash features three seams of reflective material, which adds to a runner’s visibility as much as the dog’s. The belt portion is adjustable to a 42 inch waist.
As with the retractable leash above, TaoTronics offers a cheaper version here that gets solid reviews.
Price: $28.99 (52 percent off MSRP)
7. Leash Boss Free Range Leash
Speaking of freedom, if a retractable leash won’t work for you and your dog, there’s also this option. Available in lengths of 20 feet, 30 feet, and 50 feet, this soft nylon megaleash is great for backyard training, giving your dog enough rope to move relatively far away from you even as you maintain control of them. Made for medium and large dogs, you can use this as a run in camping situations or while recall training.
The handle is made of high density foam to give you better, more comfortable control. One drawback is that it lacks reflective material compared to the others on this list. Each of these super long leashes comes with a carrying bag for storage.
Price: $24.98 – $37.98 (32 – 37 percent off MSRP)
8. Kurgo 6-in-1 Quantum Hands Free Dog Leash
Reflecting on what I said in the intro for this post, different leashes perform different jobs. This leash will easily cover more than one base with its six functions. Included in those are a traditional six-foot leash, a three-foot training leash, double dog leash, over the shoulder, around the waist, and finally a tether. I have one of these and can report that it’s very comfortable to use and especially with my husky and blue nose pit, I make frequent use of the different functions.
It’s very tough, as well. One potential warning would be that it can be kind of confusing to switch functions the first few times, so be sure to hang onto the directions. It comes with a lifetime warranty lest you have any issues with it. Choose from the following colors to coordinate with your pup: Grass Green, Black/Orange, Coastal Blue, Honeysuckle Pink, Raspberry, and Red/Blue.
Price: $18.14 to $35
9. Mendota British Slip Lead
If a slip lead is necessary, this attractive model might fit the bill. It utilizes either a leather or metal slide (depending on the exact model) to safely release properly while training. The rope has a solid polypropylene core for maximum durability. Slip leads are best for training, or even just to usher your dog between cars and buildings. It’s available in a very wide variety of colors and sizes to suit any dog.
Price: $5.51 – $46.99
10. Mighty Paw HandleX2 Dual Handle Dog Leash
Like its multi-dog sibling above, this Mighty Dog leash is an X2 model. Unlike that one, though, the two means two handles for just one dog. This one is designed with control and safety in mind, with a second handle placed 12 inches from the dog, allowing for easily reining your pup in at crosswalks and around other dogs. Both handles are padded, and the entire length of the leash features reflective material for low-light situations. If you’ve ever found yourself winding a leash around your hand to shorten it up, this is the one for you.