We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

The right dog leash can mean the difference between a calm adventure with your pup and a total catastrophe. Leashes in different lengths, materials and even colors affect how they function, and many pet parents need more than one. A reflective leash for evening walks, a long leash for training or a hands-free leash for runs could easily make life with your dog easier. 

Leashes also come in various designs, like double leashes and slip leads that function as a collar and leash. If you live where it’s wet or your dog loves water, you may need a waterproof leash, while those with a dog that pulls may need a model with a cushioned handle. The dog’s age, breed, and size will factor into the decision, too. For example, small breeds don’t need a thick, heavy leash, and puppies may need the leash training help offered by a long dog leash. The best dog leash has the durability, length, and extra features that you need to maintain control and keep your dog safe. 

Use the best dog leashes to maintain control and enjoy walks with your dog

Leashes are an absolute necessity for most dog owners to safely exercise their dog, take the pup to the vet, and maintain control in public places. The best dog leash for you and your dog depends on the activities you do together and the dog’s personality and size. Designs vary from embossable leather models to retractable leashes that provide extra freedom for dogs to sniff and explore. 

The dog’s size affects the best leash thickness and length. Large breeds may need a heavy, long option for added durability. However, small toy breeds could get weighed down by a 10 -foot-long, heavy leash. Nylon is the most common material for leashes because it’s inexpensive, durable, and comes in various colors. They’re made in flat or round/rope designs. However, depending on the nylon’s quality, it might not be strong enough for heavy pullers or chewers. Dogs who can’t help but chew probably need a leather one. Leather stands up to the wear and tear of a rambunctious dog who chews or pulls better than nylon, but you’ll pay a little extra. 

Some leashes have extra handles and extra clips for extra configuration options or to help you keep control when crossing the street. Options with extra D-rings or clips also offer a means to connect storage for other dog supplies like poop bags or treats. 

Related: Best dog collar for every pup

The best dog leashes: Reviews & Recommendations

Best overall: TUG 360° Heavy-Duty Retractable Dog Leash  

Billy Cadden


The TUG 360° Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash comes in four sizes and six colors. The different sizes work for dogs under 26 pounds and up to 110 pounds. Dogs get 16 feet to explore, while owners get a comfortable hand grip with an easy sliding push-button lock/unlock thumb control. A specially designed opening on the housing prevents the leash from tangling and gives 360 degrees of control. 

Best for two dogs: iYoShop Dual Dog Leash



The iYoShop Dual Dog Leash takes the double dog leash into heavy-duty territory. The padded handle keeps the grip comfortable, while the double ones attach with a 360-degree swivel and are made of bungee cord to offer some tension and pressure relief for active dogs. This 35-inch leash comes in two sizes and six colors. 

Best hands-free: Fable Running Leash 



The Fable Running Leash’s versatile design includes adjustable length with clips and stoppers that transform it from a traditional leash to a hands-free option that attaches to the waist or wrist. Depending on the configuration and which of the two sizes are used, this leash reaches 40 to 80 inches and comes in six colors. 

Best reflective: Bark Reflective Leash 



The Bark Reflective Leash features a durable, flat nylon surface with reflective material on both sides of the leash. It’s bright and visible, but the locking hook and neoprene handle offer extra security for the dog and comfort for the owner. Both of the two sizes are 60 inches long and include a D-ring on the handle to hold dog supplies like poop bags or a dog-treat pouch. 

Best budget: BAAPET Strong Dog Leash 



The BAAPET Strong Dog Leash comes in nine colors and three sizes, with nylon rope widths ranging from ⅓ to ½ inch and lengths of 4, 5, or 6 feet. With reflective threads weaved into the rope, it’s visible and durable. For the owner’s comfort, a cushy foam covers the handle. 

Best leather: Fairwin Leather Dog Leash



The Fairwin Leather Dog Leash comes in four widths—½ inch, 5/8 inch, ¾ inch, and 1 inch—to accommodate dogs of different sizes and strengths. The leather thickness varies from ⅙ of an inch to ⅕-inch thick. A high-tensile copper clasp and heavy-duty buckle keep the dog secure. This leather option also includes a 60-day unconditional return policy. 

Things to consider when buying the best dog leashes

Give your dog extra freedom to explore with a retractable dog leash

Retractable leashes offer adjustable lengths that range from 5 to 30 feet. They have plastic housings with an ergonomic handgrip that protects the retracted nylon leash. Your thumb usually controls a locking mechanism that releases or stops retraction, putting easy control within your hands.  

However, retractable models tend to be a polarizing topic among dog owners—either you love them or you hate them. For some pet parents, they’re the perfect solution to balance the dog’s need to explore with the owner’s need to keep their pet safe. 

Retractable leashes are a great choice if you walk your dog in an area where he’s not likely to run into traffic or other dangerous obstacles. It’s also a good solution for dogs who like to explore. The dog’s personality matters with a retractable leash. A dog who will pull no matter the leash length might be too out of control for a retractable model. However, if your dog gets frustrated because he wants to sniff off of the walking trail where you’d prefer to stay, a retractable leash becomes a compromise that keeps you both happy.

Double the trouble, double the fun with two dogs on one double dog leash

The more dogs you have, the more leashes you have to untangle. A double leash offers a simple solution for well-behaved dogs. These leashes feature a single handle connected to two leashes. Sometimes the handle has a single cord that extends 2 or 3 feet, then splits or has a D-ring that connects to two short leads, so you can walk two pups with one leash. 

If you’re walking two dogs with separate leads, they inevitably get tangled. Double leashes can prevent a tangle of feet, fur, and leash. However, like other designs, you have to know your dogs. If they wrestle and nip each other when they’re in close proximity, a double leash might not be the best choice. They work well for leash-trained pups who are relatively calm and get along with one another.  

Walk, run, or skip with your dog on a hands-free leash

Hands-free picks grant you extra freedom while your dog stays close by. These leashes have extra length, clips, and connectors that allow you to wear them as a belt, on your wrist, or as a traditional leash. When you’re hands-free, you’re not managing a leash while scooping poop, holding hands with young children, or balancing your way up a mountain trail.

They’re an excellent choice for active pet owners who want to take their dogs on outdoor adventures. You may need your hands-on steep trails to drink water or stay balanced when you’re pushing your own physical limits. It also can make simple evening walks more pleasant for you. If you’re going hands-free, however, the dog should be well trained. A dog that chases squirrels or becomes distracted by every passerby can pull you off your feet. However, if your pet stays by your side and loves to be with you, one of these types will give you freedom and safety to enjoy a wide range of activities together. 

Now you see it, now you…still see it with a reflective dog leash

Many models have some reflective properties built into the design, like a reflective thread woven through the nylon or tapes on the handle. Visibility is an important safety issue for walking dogs at dawn and dusk. Drivers, bikers, and other pedestrians may see you and not the dog or vice versa. Reflective leashes increase visibility for both of you. Volume matters when it comes to visibility. The more reflective material on the leash, the easier it is to see. However, these leashes need regular cleaning. Dirt and mud can cover the reflective material, reducing visibility. 

Ready to save some cash on your dog products?

Budget leashes are usually made of nylon but lower-quality nylon than more expensive models. The hardware on these leashes may be plastic or low-grade stainless steel. Cheap leashes are a great option when you’re on a tight budget or for an extra leash in the car. They’ll last longer with dogs who are well-leashed trained, don’t pull, and don’t chew. These leashes will also last longer in a dry climate, where water exposure stays to a minimum. Inexpensive leashes may be flat or round/rope designs. Thicker ropes tend to last longer, whether they’re used with a small or large breed. 

Also consider …

Dogs who chew or pull excessively can go through fabric leashes in a matter of weeks if not days. Leather options offer better, tougher durability for dogs that are hard on leashes. That doesn’t mean leather won’t get worn out with chewing and pulling, but it will last longer. And leather leashes don’t cost that much more than a high-quality fabric one but will last longer with pups who love to test their limits. 


Q: What is the D-ring on a dog leash for? 

Some leashes have a D-ring on or near the handle. The ring can hold extra dog supplies like a poop-bag dispenser or a dog-treat pouch. You can buy a poop bag holder with a carabiner on it that clips directly to a D-ring. These designs make it easy to head out the door with everything you need to walk the dog. 

Q: Can a dog escape a slip lead?

Dogs can escape slip leads. These leashes have a ring on the end instead of a hook or clip. The handle then slides through the ring, creating a loop that secures around the dog’s neck and acts as a collar. For a dog that’s been well trained on a lead, a slip lead stays comfortably loose. However, if the dog pulls or tries to run away, the loop tightens on their neck, potentially choking them if they (or you) don’t stop pulling. A dog can escape a slip lead by staying close to the person holding the leash, causing the loop to loosen. The dog could then slip its head out. Slips leads are somewhat controversial and should only be used on dogs with plenty of obedience and leash training.

Q: What age can you leash train a puppy? 

Basic obedience and leash training can start around eight weeks old. At this age, pups begin to become more aware and have the ability to understand basic commands. Before starting, remember to be patient, keep training sessions short, and always end on a positive note.

Related: Best dog DNA kits

The final word on the best dog leashes

Different dogs and owners will find that different options work better for them than others. As you’re choosing the best for your pup, whether it’s a long leash or a hands-free leash, consider how and where you want to use the leash and the dog’s size and temperament. If you’re willing to pay a little extra for a leash with aluminum or high-quality stainless steel hardware and thick nylon, chances are it will last longer and provide a better bang for your buck. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.