How to Choose the Best Dog Leash

Redbarn June 20, 2016
Pet Parenting-How to Choose the Best Dog Leash-redbarn-blog

You may be at the dog park or beach when you notice pet parents are walking their dogs on all different types of leashes. And that makes you wonder, what leash is best for my dog? 

All dog leashes have the same primary function— keeping your dog safe and under control in outdoor and public spaces. But each dog is different, and temperament and training needs will determine what the best dog leash type is for your pup.

Different dog leashes are good for different activities. 

To choose the best dog leash for your dog, you’ll need to consider what you’re using it for, the best length and width, and the material. We understand that all those options create a lot of choices, which is why we’ve created this guide!

The Benefits of Dog Leashes

While the uses for a dog leash might seem obvious, there are many benefits we might not necessarily consider. Dog leashes provide 

  •      An efficient and simple means of controlling your dog while training.
  •      Prevention from dogs wandering into areas where they’re not allowed.
  •      Prevent from chasing and scaring other animals and children or people with dog phobias.
  •      A means to safely, temporarily tether your dog if you cannot give them your attention briefly.

Different Types of Dog Leashes

Standard dog leashes

The standard leash is likely what you think of when you imagine a leash. They are a solid or braided piece of material (typically nylon) and come in lengths ranging from 4 to 8 ft.

Standard leashes are also available in reflective material, which is perfect for dog owners that walk at night or in the early mornings.

Retractable Dog Leashes

Retractable leashes are one of the most controversial parts of the dog leash world.  While they’re popular with many dog owners, experts caution against them because of the limited control that they give you over your dog. Retractable dog leashes also come with a few potential dangers like rope burn if you grab the leash while your dog attempts to run away.

Retractable leashes do not offer much control over your dog. Because of this, retractable leashes are best for dogs that are well-behaved on the leash, and owners who are comfortable giving their dog more lead-room.

Adjustable Dog Leashes

Adjustable leads might be the best fit for people that want the flexibility of retractable leashes and the control of a standard leash. These leashes can go between 3 and 6ft, by adding or removing loops or clips along the length. 

An adjustable leash is a great option for pet parents training for longer lead-room. If you want a shorter leash for training and a longer leash for more freedom while on walks, the adjustable dog leash can give you the best of both worlds.

Dog Leash Materials

While it’s possible to find leashes in rubber (not recommended) and cotton, the most common leash materials you’ll find on the market today are made out of the materials nylon, leather, and chain. Which one is right for you depends on you and the size of your budget. 


Nylon is the most popular dog leash material because it is inexpensive and durable. Nylon is ideal for climates or environments that often result in a wet leash (though you’ll want to let it dry completely between uses).

Because it’s a man-made fiber, you can find nylon in just about every color and pattern. There are lots of options, and they are widely available, so you likely won’t have to worry about special ordering or extensive searching to find what you want.

The primary drawbacks to nylon dog leashes are that it’s not hard for a dog to chew through, and if your dog tends to pull the leash rubbing against your skin could create a friction burn over time.


Leather leashes are a high-quality item and are very durable, but may need to be treated with a leather conditioner to maintain their quality. Leather has a natural give and tends to be the most comfortable because it will soften to your hand over time.

While not resistant to chewing, they do hold up well. If you’ve had issues with nylon in the past or are willing to invest more upfront for a long-lasting leash, leather could be the right leash material for you.


Chains are ideal for dogs that chew through other leash materials. Because they are metal, these leashes can be hefty. For a larger or stronger breed, this weightier dog leash could be a good fit.

If using with a small puppy, you will want to get a thin chain that is as light as possible, then upgrade to a tougher leash as your dog grows.

Choosing the Right Length


Six feet is the most common length for dog leashes and is ideal for walking in neighborhoods or less trafficked areas. A 6ft leash allows your dog room to explore, without leaving so much slack that the leash drags on the ground or gets tangled around your dog’s legs or your own.

4 ft

For highly trafficked areas, like a busy city street, the 4ft dog leash is ideal. This length keeps your dog from getting in others’ way or getting wrapped around poles and lampposts. This size can also be useful in situations where your dog might feel compelled to wander before they’ve been trained to stay at your side.

8-10 ft

If you’re looking for a longer leash for training purposes, you’ll want to try an 8-10ft leash. This length allows you to keep control of your dog, but also allows for more distance between you.

Long line leashes

Long line leashes are used for distance command training, and can range from 50-150ft long. If you’re training your dog in long sits or stays, or in recall commands, a long line dog leash is ideal. By using a long line leash, you can maintain distance from your dog while also maintaining a connection and some control.

Choosing the Right Width

While width might not be the first thing you think of when considering what kind of leash to buy, it is a factor in selecting the right leash.

Thicker leashes

If your dog is a chewer or a strong puller, you’ll want to choose a thicker leash. A good width will provide more strength and keep the leash from snapping under tension if your dog pulls.

Thinner or Slimmer leashes

Small dogs or young and small puppies will want a thinner leash because these are lighter and less restrictive. With a puppy, you may need to upgrade later to a thicker leash depending on their breed and temperament.

Dog Leash Safety Tips and Tricks

  •      Have a spare leash on hand in case your primary leash is damaged.
  •      Attach a carabiner to the handle of your leash to make tethering your dog quick and easy by attaching the leash to itself.
  •      Hang a wet leash up to dry to make it last longer.
  •      For leather leashes, keep leather oil on hand for leash maintenance.
  •      For growing dogs, be prepared to upgrade one to two times as your pup gets larger and stronger.


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