When you own a dog, one of the most important items to purchase is a leash, which is useful for controlling the pet on walks or training it as a puppy. The type of leash you use determines how easy it is to control your pet and if the material can hold up to tugging and pulling. Here are our team's picks for the best dog leashes in 2021.
We know that your furry friend deserves nothing less than the best. Here’s a handy buying guide to help you choose a dog leash.
What Are the Different Types of Leashes?
There are many types of leashes, depending on the materials used and the features they offer. Here are some of the most common types of leashes:
You’d often see this type being used in basic training and everyday walks. Because of its straightforward design, this type offers great control. Standard leashes are usually made of nylon or leather, which are tough enough to handle adult dogs but lightweight enough for puppies and small dogs. They come in solid or braided designs and typically measure 4 to 8 feet.
One of the most versatile types of leashes, retractable leashes feature a nylon cord that can be extended up to 30 feet to allow greater freedom of movement for your pooch. This type features a locking mechanism at the plastic handle that lets you lock the cord at your preferred length. When released, it collects any slack, retracting the cord up to the line in the handle.
While this is one of the more popular choices for dog leashes, this type is recommended for dogs who have already been trained to walk on a leash. This is because the retractable mechanism may confuse dogs who are still familiarizing themselves with having a leash.
Coming in 3 to 6 feet, adjustable leashes provide a middle ground between standard and retractable leashes to make sure it could reach out to your fast running dogs. With this type, you can easily lengthen or shorten the cord through hoops and clips. The option for a shorter leash is great for when you’re training your dog, and the ease with which you can lengthen the cord is excellent for when you’re going out on walks.
Other types of leashes
Besides the 3 main types, there are other kinds of leashes, like the martingale, chain, bike, and seatbelt safety leashes.
Chain leashes are often used for dogs who have the propensity to chew and destroy their leashes. However, dog owners still need to keep a close eye on their pets when using this leash since some dogs may try to chew through the material even if it damages their teeth.
Martingale leashes are standard leashes with a martingale collar. These are often used in training as the collar’s tightening feature acts as a deterrent when your dog pulls the leash—without actually choking your dog.
For those who like their dogs to accompany them on car rides or bike rides, consider getting a seatbelt safety leash or a bike leash. Bike leashes are designed so they can be attached to the frame of your bicycle. On the other hand, seatbelt safety leashes feature a seatbelt clip on one end so you can use it to secure your dog at the backseat of your car.
Most Important Features of Leashes
To help you narrow down your choice of leashes, here are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Appropriate length and width
Leashes come in varying lengths, and the shorter ones, like 4 feet, are usually for training or when walking your dog in busy streets. 6 feet is the usual length, and these leashes are often used for walking in neighborhoods without much traffic. Longer ones, like 8 to 10 feet, allow for more freedom of movement and are great for obedience and distance training.
In terms of width, leashes come in slim or thick versions. Slim leashes are great for puppies because of their lightweight material. For older dogs, thick leashes are recommended for their stronger quality that can withstand sudden pulls.
Durable material suited to your dog and purpose
Leashes are available in different materials, like nylon, leather, chain, and cotton. These materials have their unique benefits and drawbacks, which you need to take into consideration when picking out a leash.
Nylon is the most common type of material for leashes since it’s affordable, lightweight, weather-resistant, and offers decent durability and strength. However, it can cause some serious rope burns, so when choosing a nylon leash, it’s best to go with one that has padding.
On the other hand, leather is generally considered to be the most comfortable material for leashes. It’s also relatively strong and can handle larger dogs. The drawback is that this type tends to be more expensive, and it may require maintenance to retain its quality.
Chain leashes are easy on the pocket but may not be easy on your hand. The material may fracture your fingers if it happens to wrap around your fingers and your dog makes a sudden lunge. As mentioned earlier, it may also cause damage to your dog’s teeth if they’re the type to chew on leashes.
Cotton is relatively rare to find, but this material is great when swimming with your pup. It offers a lot of give but may cause some rope burn on your hands.
Sturdy and secure clips
Clips are another important component of a dog leash as these connect the collar to the leash. They need to be strong, durable, and capable of withstanding corrosion when exposed to the elements. The two most common clip styles are bolt snaps and trigger snaps. Both are fairly reliable, although trigger snaps are generally regarded as more secure due to their size and spring mechanism.
This dog leash is designed to reduce pulling and gently tightens around the barrel only without tightening around the neck. The leash tightens like a slip lead if the dog attempts to escape.
The Harness Lead dog leash is easy to put on without having buckles or hardware to adjust. The comfortable material doesn’t rub or chafe against the skin and allows the dog to feel more at ease and relaxed while wearing it. Unfortunately, the length of it isn’t the same for all sizes, which can be a pain for those who purchase the smaller sizes.
Made with rock climbing rope, this dog leash is five feet long with padded handles to prevent them from digging into the skin. It’s built with a durable hook clip for you and your dog’s safety.
The BAAPET dog leash makes it easy to control dogs because it offers more leverage without the fear of the dog breaking the material. It still offers a small amount of give, which allows it to work well when dogs decide to sniff or chase a shadow. The fragile plastic covers on each end can break easily if too much pressure is applied.
With a quick lock and unlock feature, this dog leash is easy to use with your thumb and is built with an anti-slip handle. The retraction opening can control the dog from any angle without tangling the leash.
This TUG dog leash has a smooth operation with an easy-to-lock temporary lock. It works well for those with weak hands or arthritis because the features are simple to manipulate without applying too much pressure. The design of the leash is heavier and bulkier than similar brands, which can cause hand fatigue and soreness on long walks.
This dog leash pairs perfectly with various training aids like harnesses and head collars. The easy on/off hook makes it simple to secure the leash to the collar or harness.
The PetSafe dog leash has a simple design and is available in six colors with a lightweight design to avoid hand fatigue. The long length and durable material gives dogs more freedom in where they move without allowing them to pull too easily. There can be too much space where you hold the leash, which may require looping it around the hand a few times for a secure grip.
Here’s a quality leash that has a heavy-duty latch, which keeps your dog secure while you move outside. Also, the soft handle keeps your hands protected if your pet is rough.
The Mycicy Rope Dog Leash is colorful and reflective to make it easier to walk your pet at night. Not to mention, the leash feels lightweight and it’s durable enough to handle the bigger breeds out there. The issue is the clip may wear out after it’s been in the rain a few times.
This sturdy dog leash is made of a braided steel cable and can hold up to the usual wear and tear, keeping your pup safe and within your grip. It can also be used as a convenient tie-out option when needed.
The leash is 6-feet long which is ideal and has an ultra-soft padded handle that provides extra grip and is comfortable enough even for long walks. However, it can’t be looped easily so you might face some trouble there.
This leash is made of 100% welded steel chain links and a nylon handle that ensures strength and comfort. It’s 5-feet long and comes in 3 colors so you can walk your pooch in style while keeping him safe.
This leash is made of chain links that makes it ultra strong and perfect for medium and large dogs. It’s also budget-friendly but can be a bit heavy compared to nylon and steel leashes. So, it might not be suitable for long walks.
This leash from Viper is unique in that it’s made from biothane, which limits the development of odors while remaining waterproof and flexible. Also features rust-free brass hardware.
This biothane leash from Viper proved to be quite sturdy when walking larger dogs. It’s also easy to hold and clean; for the latter task, all you need is to wipe it down. However, this leash also has a heavy feel that can make it feel clumsy to use at times.
This unique leash from Vivaglory comes in five color choices and features two handles with dual padding. The attached carabiner clasp can rotate 360-degrees.
Our testing team found the length of this leash to be pretty satisfying. It offers a lot of control, especially when working with dogs who tend to be more nervous or stubborn during walks. The handle is comfortable and makes using the leash even easier. However, the hook is on the flimsier end may come off, especially if your dog is prone to pulling.
With three lengths and 14 designs to choose from, this rope-style leash from Mile High Life features leather connections, a sturdy clasp and a looped grip for easier handling.
This is another pick that’s ideal for smaller dogs. It’s sturdy enough for their walking needs and generally holds up to pulling. However, the texture of the leash may cause rope burn if your dog is especially prone to tugging.
Despite its rope-like design, this dog leash from Ladoogo is tailored to keep rope burns away. This 5 ft. long leash features a foam handle for ease of use.
The rope-like construction of this leash is its most attractive feature. It not only makes the leash easy to hold, but it also makes it incredibly sturdy and perfect for use with large or strong dogs. However, the leash may actually be a bit too short for some larger dogs.
Bolux designed this 5 ft. dog leash to be twice as strong and thick as usual leash models. It includes reflective threads so you and your dog remain visible during evening walks.
We immediately noticed how high-quality this Bolux leash is the moment we unboxed it. We can tell it was constructed for long-term use thanks to its hefty fabric and visible sewing quality. However, we can’t recommend the waste bags this leash comes with because they’re very flimsy and may lead to more mess.
This leash is made from nylon and features an attached, 360° swivel hook made from stainless metal. It comes in five color choices.
We found the leash holds up well during most walking scenarios, even when used with the most pull-happy dogs. It’s a great choice for small and medium pups. However, it isn’t as comfortable as other options; our hands hurt after trying to walk our more pull-prone dogs.
With three color options to choose from, this dog leash from Primal Pet features two handles – one at the end and one closer to the hook – for better control.
Our testers found this leash from Primal was the perfect length for daily walks, especially if you plan to attach it to a frontal harness. It’s sturdy, holds up to the elements, and is a great choice for dogs of most sizes. However, larger dogs may be prone to accidentally getting caught in the lower handle.
Shorven offers a wide variety of diameters to choose from for this 8 ft. leash. Each version is made from nylon and features a comfortable foam handle and a hook made from metal.
We found this leash to be quite efficient; the length and built-in stretchiness allow dogs a bit of freedom to roam. It’s also fairly comfortable to grip. However, the hook isn’t as sturdy as we like, and we worry about its ability to hold up over time.
This innovative leash from oneisall offers a hands-free dog walking experience. It features a halter that loops around your shoulders. Suitable for dogs of every size and made from nylon.
We felt superhuman while using this dog leash! Even our strongest, heaviest, most pull-happy dogs were no match for us thanks to the way the leash is constructed. We also enjoy the pure convenience of it because it frees our hands up during walking. It even seems to be chew-resistant. However, the position of the straps on the body isn’t entirely comfortable.
This LWBMG leash is made of authentic leather with a tensile strength of up to 500 lbs. It’s ideal for small and medium dogs. It’s perfect for walking and training alike.
This leash proved to be extremely sturdy. The leather it’s made from is of good quality and has a pleasant feel. The hook is equally durable. We were able to walk our largest dogs with no problems. However, it seems to be a little longer than advertised.
This leash is made out of high quality leather, a material that will both last for your dog’s entire lifetime, but will look quite classy on top of it.
Heavy chewers will go through lighter materials like they’re chew toys, which means that things like nylon might not be an option if your dog is a chewer. The leather material of this leash is extremely durable and stylish, plus it’s gentler on the hands, but it only stays that way if it’s properly maintained. This leash takes more care than nearly any other, and can easy crack or become stained if it’s ignored.
Dogs that like to chew will make short work of light leashes. Thus, having a leather leash is a great choice.
The leather leash is as stylish as it is durable. It will last a long time without needing replaced. Leather is also easier to hold in the hand without it digging into the skin. The only downside is that leather needs more maintenance.
Ideal for training purposes when you want to safely introduce your dog to recall commands, this long leash can measure up at a maximum of 50 feet and is suitable for camping and backyard use too, thanks to its strong nylon construction.
Five sizes available. Five different color options. Made from high-quality nylon.
This functional collar is great for walking and training fur babies of all sizes. The material is strong and durable. It’s also waterproof so you can walk your dog, regardless of the weather.
Mendota Products Dog Slip Lead is soft on the hands so you don’t have to break it in. The leash is adjustable to fit your dog’s neck comfortably. The oil-tanned leather snap allows you to adjust the diameter. The color might stain a light-colored dog’s fur. The leather piece that tightens might not stay in place.
With a six-foot leash, your fur baby has enough room to run and be free. The leash is constructed of extra-strong, durable 100% nylon webbing. The box stitching is heavy-duty throughout the leash.
Country Brook Design – Vibrant 25 Color Selection – 1 Inch Nylon Dog Leash has a soft handle that’s comfortable for you and your fur baby. The heavy snap hook stays securely in place. This leash may not work well for larger dogs. The color can fade quickly.
This leash can be used at 2 lengths: there is a handle a 1/3 of the way up, and another on the top. Use it doubled up as a shorter lead, or just the single handle to give your dog some room to play.
This Primal Pet leash is just a standard nylon leash, but one that makes it simple to keep your dog under control. It’s quite durable, and even has reflective coating all along the side, to keep you and your dog safe on night walks. The only issues our team found were a couple of structural problems that may or may not be individual issues.
This Paw Lifestyles leash is a retractable leash that allows your dog to run further if you feel they should be able to, but also allows you to regain tight and taut control.
This option also comes with a handy pouch for storing a phone or similar – so you really can be hands-free! We love that this hands-free leash lets distracted dogs “orbit” us while on the go. The reflective material is a bonus for people who walk at night! On the downside, some leashes respond poorly to tugging and have been known to snap.
This handcrafted latigo leather leash provides exceptional durability and strength. It’s 6 feet long to allow your puppy plenty of space to roam.
This leash is loved by professional trainers because of the excellent quality leather. It doesn’t hurt your skin, and it is difficult to chew through. However, the leather is stiff and can be difficult to handle for the first several uses. It does soften over time, but keep in mind that it needs to be stored and cleaned properly to ensure it doesn’t wear out.
The Blueberry Pet classic leash is the classic puppy leash. The durable nylon comes in seven vibrant colors, perfect for everyday use.
The DogGear team trusts Blueberry Pet. The nylon fabric feels soft, but durable. Like many nylon leashes, the leash may hurt your hand if your puppy pulls on it too much. Also, some of the clasps have been known to unclip easily.
This heavy-duty leather dog leash is designed to withstand constant use and pulling from your puppy. It’s water resistant and the leather won’t crack due to moisture.
This leash is strong but soft and gentle for everyday use. This leash looks great, is tough and the leather lasts. This leash simply feels sturdy in your hand. The only con is if your puppy chews it up you will want to buy another one!
This leash is a sturdy and durable option for large puppies that like to pull a lot. The leather is good quality and American-made by Amish craftsmen.
This is an excellent leash often used by law enforcement and the military for dog training activities. It’s 4 feet long to keep your puppy close to you when you are training or on walks. This leash is hard to chew and very durable. It is a bit stiff when it first arrives, so it will require some wear and tear to break it in. We have seen instances where the color of the leash wears out easily.
This is a unique leash that’s built with dogs and their owners in mind. The tough nylon is durable, the handle feels great, and the clip is safe and secure. This is a purchase you won’t regret.
Three cool colors to choose from, including pink, black, and green Comfortable padded handle feels nice in your hands while out on long walks Made of strong high density nylon rope and very durable metal clasp for durability, with luminous reflective stitching to increase visibility on walks
This retractable dog leash only requires you to hold onto the handle as you control how much slack to give your dog. This leash works for small dogs up to 26 lbs.
Fida Retractable Dog Leash has 16 ft. of durable nylon tape with a rust-resistant swivel hook. The dog leash tape is covered with a white reflective fabric that will increase security and visibility. The inlet for the tape prevents it from twisting. The locking mechanism may suddenly lock and unlock.
The plaid harness has a breathable inside layer for comfort. Use the adjustable buckles for a custom fit. The included harness is of a matching plaid design. It clips to a D-ring on the harness.
The harness feels soft and flexible for dogs’ comfort. The colors stay vivid even after washing. The head opening of the harness may leave a gap on some dogs, allowing them to chew on it. The sizing chart may be off and the harnesses run small.
A wide 3M reflective strip wraps around the bottom of this mesh harness for increased nighttime visibility. The velcro closure enables a custom fit with a quick-release buckle for added security.
The matching woven leash attaches to a D-ring on the harness with a swivel clip. The set is available in multiple sizes and colors. On some small dogs, the front of the harness leaves a gap at the chest where puppies can get their jaws into. Some puppies may still be able to escape from the harness.
The flannelette-lined harness has adjustable D-rings for a custom fit. The matching bungee leash has a swivel clip for safety and comfort, plus a padded handle to avoid hand discomfort.
The contrast stitching on the harness is reflective to aid in increasing your dog’s visibility during night walks. The leash clips to a ring on the back of the harness to prevent pulling at your pup’s neck. The flannelette fabric can feel unpleasant if it gets wet during the walk. The sizing runs large.
The Max and Neo leash is a great nylon option for those who want a durable training leash.
More durable than most other fabric leashes, the Max and Neo is also more comfortable in your hand than most other comparable options. Plus, the company donates a leash for every purchase, and as an added bonus, the leash has a lifetime warranty. One known issue is that the sides of the leash itself can be pretty sharp and cut you if you don’t grab by the handle.
The Logical Leather Dog Leash is made of premium materials including solid nickel on the clasp and leather on the leash. The clasp clips on and off the collar easily but won’t disengage on its own.
The Logical Leather Dog Leash is wide enough to be strong but still narrow enough to be comfortable and flexible in the hands. The leash is also pliant enough to help send messages to one’s dog without causing them to feel controlled. However, the leather may not hold up as well for larger 50 to 80-pound dogs due to how hard they can pull.
This five-foot dog leash is created with a tangle-free metal clip and nylon climbing rope.
This is another great option due to its comfortable grip and overall durability. We love the colors and that the reflective strips help make walking at night safer. If your dog tends to chew on their leash, this one is quite easy to chew through.
This 5-foot leather leash is a great option for training. The clasp doesn’t rust, and the material is durable and requires minimal maintenance.
The DogGear team loves leather leashes because they are so classic and durable. This is a nice-looking and reasonably priced option that many dog owners love. On the downside, it might stretch a bit, and some owners find the clasp hard to work.
This dog leash has 4-foot and 6-foot lengths with varying colors and a soft padded handle.
We like that the clasp is very strong and trustworthy (even with big dogs) and really appreciate the rounded handle. The leash is also very durable, staying in like-new condition even after months of use and miles of walking. The downside is that the handle has started to come apart in some instances.
Destin has experience working with dogs in the most high stress environments on earth. He currently is a canine handler as a security contractor, helping to keep US diplomats safe in some of the most dangerous regions of the world.