Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

The essentials

  • Factor in your dog’s size and strength — While a thin flat lead might complement your dog’s collar, you may need a tougher option if you have a large dog or if your furry friend likes to forcefully tug or bite at their leash.
  • Not every option is a good idea — Retractable leashes remain popular, but we don’t recommend them because of the possible risk of injury—for dogs and pet parents alike.
  • You might end up with more than one — The right type of leash might depend on your activities for the day. For example, while you might typically use a flat lead for walks, you might also want to invest in a bike leash for bicycle outings.

Choosing the best leash for your dog can feel overwhelming. While there are many different styles of dog leashes, ultimately, the perfect leash for your pup is one that suits their personality and activity levels and is comfortable for you both. 

Here’s our guide to help dog owners find the most durable, versatile leash for any occasion.

Types of dog leashes

1. Flat leads, or a standard dog leash

Nylon or leather, solid or patterned — the possibilities for flat leads are practically endless. A standard leash usually features a snap hook that attaches to the hardware on your dog’s collar or harness and has a loop handle. They’re usually around 6ft long but can come shorter to manage your dog more easily.

A flat lead is the most popular choice, and it’s a good one in most cases. However, you might find that a flat lead falls flat in certain situations, such as if your dog can chomp through nylon leashes or if you walk multiple dogs at once since flat leads may intertwine. 

2. Chain leash  

A high-quality chain crafted from rust-resistant metal discourages your dog from biting their leash and also resists moisture from late afternoon rainy walks. If you decide to get a chain leash, it’s important to find one that’s made from heavy-duty materials. Some cheaper, low-quality chain leashes are surprisingly weak and the links may snap.

3. Bike leash 

Once you teach your dog how to walk beside you, it’s possible to teach them to walk alongside your bike. A bike leash that attaches to your bike frame is the safest training method. 

Always make sure your dog has mastered walking beside you before you hop on a bike.  The worst thing would be to accidentally get the leash caught in your bike tires because your dog tried to take the lead.  

4. Gentle leader 

While not meant to be a permanent form of restraint, a gentle leader that loops around your dog’s muzzle may help with training. Dr. Irish explains, “When a dog tries to pull, the thin straps apply even pressure on the bridge of the nose so that a dog’s gaze is averted downward instead of forward.” She notes that some dogs might not like the feel of a gentle leader at first, so you might need to train them with positive associations like toys or treats.

5. Double-dog leash 

Walking multiple pets at once can feel more like a double dog dare than an enjoyable outing. A double-dog leash consists of one rope that splits off in two directions, with separate shorter leashes and snap hook attachments for both dogs. By having only one primary rope, you’re preventing the tangling that can result from two separate leashes. 

6. Slip lead or martingale

This type of leash works as a training tool that uses the same technology as a choke collar without the harness. A martingale leash features a slip-knot lead that gently tightens as your dog pulls, and releases tension when they stop. While it discourages them from stubborn tugging, it doesn’t deliver the force of a choke collar and is a much more ethical choice. 

7. Rope leash

Rope or braided leashes can take many forms. In most ways they tend to be similar to flat leads, having a loop handle for your hands and featuring a snap hook that attaches to the D-ring on your dog’s collar or harness. 

However, rope leashes may sometimes be a superior option to flat leads in certain cases. Braided cords are stronger than nylon webbing, preventing your puppy from breaking the leash if they chomp down without risking teeth damage from using a chain leash. 

8. Car leash 

Car leads are usually bungee leashes that attach to the seat belt (or over a headrest for larger dogs). Keeping your pet restrained in the car keeps you both safe by preventing them from crawling into your lap while you drive, or protecting your pet if a car accident does occur. 

Always attach car leashes to a harness rather than a collar to prevent neck injuries if your dog gets jolted during the drive. Crating while in the car may be a better option for small dogs and young puppies, as well, so ask your vet.

9. Rubber lead, or bungee leash 

While bungee leashes may work for car trips, they’re not usually a good idea for walks. Rubber leads have a lot of give, so when a dog pulls, they get farther than they would with a fixed leash. This can teach them that pulling is a good thing, making training difficult. 

This type of lead has been known to snap under too much pressure, which can hurt both the dog and the owner if it happens. 

10. Retractable leash 

Retractable dog leashes usually feature a plastic handle and a small nylon lead with thinner nylon tape that extends out to several more feet. These tend to have a wide bandwidth, some stretching out to 50 feet. 

This may seem like a great way to let your dog explore on walks, but these leashes are not recommended. They encourage a dog to pull (because of the length and lack of pressure), can easily get tangled up with other leashes, dogs, or humans, and are actually responsible for many different injuries to both dogs and humans.

Selecting the right dog leash length

While retractable leashes may extend to nearly indefinite distances of 50 feet or more, most traditional leads are available in 4, 6, or 10ft lengths. There are different reasons you might choose each length: 

  • 4ft leashes. Keeping someone on a short leash isn’t just a colloquial saying. It can help to have a 4ft leash when training your dog or walking them in an unfamiliar or crowded area. 
  • 6ft leashes. Often considered the standard, a 6ft leash doesn’t necessarily keep your dog at your side, but it does prevent them from wandering off. Plus, 6ft leashes are usually the maximum length allowed if your city has a leash law.
  • 8 or 10ft leashes. A longer leash allows your dog greater freedom and can be beneficial during training sessions. However, they’re more likely to get tangled and may not conform to local leash laws.

Tips for choosing a dog leash

Since there is such a range of leashes to choose from, it’s important to consider personal factors when shopping for the best dog leash for your daily walk. If your dog likes to chew, you might need a rope or chain leash to prevent the lead from fraying and breaking. A martingale leash can be an excellent tool to prevent your dog from pulling, or a gentle lead can assist in training. 

Other considerations include activities you might enjoy with your dog. If you run with your dog at night, a reflective dog leash might be a good idea. Certain activities might require a specific leash, such as biking or riding in the car. More than likely, you’ll end up with a couple of different options suited for specific occasions.

Frequently asked questions

What leash is best for a dog?

Your dog’s level of training and your personal preferences should lead the way when deciding on the best leash. For example, a well-behaved small dog might not need a heavy-duty leash so you might opt for a thin lead with a cute pattern to match their collar or your personal taste.  Large dogs—or a more active small dog who yanks on their leash—might require something a little tougher, like a Martingale. And, of course, there are certain types of leashes for certain activities, too, such as bike and car leashes. 

What is the best leash to prevent pulling?

The best way to stop your dog from pulling on the leash is to train them how to walk beside you. A short 4ft lead is best to use during training because it keeps your dog close, which helps the training process. You might also consider a Martingale leash. This leash slightly pulls your dog when they pull you. It discourages tugging without being as harsh as a choke collar. 

What is the best lead length for a dog?

Most pet parents prefer 6ft leashes. If your dog is well-trained, you might opt for a longer 8 or 10-foot leash to give them a greater sense of freedom while keeping them safe. Just remember, leash laws in some places may place restrictions on leashes longer than 6 feet. Check with your county or local government to see if those rules might apply to you.  

Is a 4ft leash too short?

While most pet parents prefer a 6ft leash, there are certain instances where a 4ft leash is a good idea. For example, if you’re training a puppy, you may want to keep them closer to you to have extra control. Walking your dog in a populated city or a dense crowd, such as at a festival, may also require a shorter lead.

Is a harness or collar better to prevent pulling?

A harness is always going to be a safer choice because it takes the pressure off the neck and distributes the force through the body. In contrast, a collar poses the risk of choking your dog, especially if you have a smaller dog or if they’re a brachycephalic breed like a pug who has narrow airways. Teaching your dog the right way to walk on a leash should prevent or at least cut back on excessive tugging.