Best Retractable Dog Leashes For All Dogs (With Pros & Cons)

The best retractable dog leash is a very convenient little invention that should be a part of every dog owner’s equipment, along with a great elevated dog bowl and a pair of slippers that your dog can chew on.

What is a retractable dog leash and the benefits of using it

A simple, yet powerful tool that provides security and freedom of movement for the dog as well as the dog owner.

Controversial at the very beginning, wrongly accused of a security hazard, but now more than widely accepted by veterinarians and experts all around the world. Dog owners loved it from the start and considered it the next step to no leash at all.

How Does It Work

As simple as it can be. The nylon rope is inside the plastic casing, wrapped around and controlled by a metal spring device. On the outer end of the rope, there is some sort of a buckle that attaches the leash on the dog’s collar or a vest.

On the handle of the casing, there are one or more buttons that control the functions of the leash. By simply pressing the buttons, you can retract, loosen or lock the leash, giving your pet more or less freedom of movement.

Retractable Leash vs Traditional Leash (Pros & Cons)

Retractable Leash vs Traditional Leash (Pros & Cons)

As mentioned earlier, a lot of controversies followed the retractable dog leash, but given the time, people came to an understanding that it is no more or less dangerous than the traditional leash.

We will give you the usual pros and cons list for the retractable dog leash:

Pros – the happiness of your pup

  • Your dog will enjoy relative freedom of movement. The leash goes a long way, so your pet can run, roll, chase birds and all that while being safe. That raises the quality of his trips and his physical health because he isn’t sentenced to a long slow walk.
  • Handicapped people or people with the impaired movement have difficulties managing the standard leash. It can get tangled in the wheels of the wheelchair and the length of the leash is usually not enough for the service dogs to execute instructions.
  • They are the greatest help for training your dog to obey simple orders like “stop”, “come back” or “fetch, especially with hyperactive dogs. If your dog is a puller, just shorten the length of the leash and fixate it until he learns his lesson.
  • No more grumbling when it’s too cold or too wet outside and your pet has to use the toilet. Your dog can happily mark his territory even on the rainiest night while you sit at the comfort of your porch.  Also, it gives your dog a bit of privacy at those delicate moments.
  • Well trained and well-behaved dogs will appreciate the comfort and freedom given by the retractable dog leash, as they are learned to obey the voice commands given by the owner.

Cons – some safety hazards

  • The retractable leash can get your pup too far away from you if you are not careful. One moment of negligence can lead to disaster. If your dog has run around the corner or crossed the busy street you will not have much time to react in the case of the accident
  • Not very suitable for aggressive breeds, or any breed that is not trained properly. It gives them an opportunity to get too close to other dogs and it could end in a decent dog fight.
  • Sudden yanking or pulling the retractable dog leash can get both you and your pet seriously injured. Stronger dogs can even knock down their reckless owner, and that will end in bruises and stitches, at least.
  • You must be cautious most of the time, especially in a crowded area

What makes a great retractable dog leash

What makes a great retractable dog leash

Length of the leash

The beauty of the retractable dog leash is that the length is adjustable. There is a wide range of leashes on the market, the standard ones used are around 2 meters long and the longest ones go up to 9 meters.

Pretty great, huh? And you can use every length for every size of the dog, just respect the weight limit.

Retractable dog leash types: corded vs belted

The standard two types of retractable dog leash have their advantages or disadvantages, depending on the preferences of a dog owner.

Corded retractable dog leash uses firm rope made of nylon or similar modern materials. It is lightweight, strong, damage resistant and almost never gets tangled.

But if you have a restless dog that jumps and runs all the time, this type has a bad reputation of causing cuts or burns to the holder. Belted retractable dog leash (also known as tape leash) was invented as an attempt to lower the number of injuries caused by a corded leash.

The design is the same, but the rope is flat, which minimized the number of cuts caused unintentionally by your restless pet. The minor flaw is that the belted leash can little more often get tangled in a casing.

Of course, the defects are mostly connected with low-quality products. Both types are pretty great if you purchase the quality product.

Number of dogs supported

If you own two dogs, first, I envy you. Second, then you know how unpleasant it can be trying to control two dogs with two leashes in hands. That is, without any exaggeration, an accident waiting to happen.

Luckily, there are types of retractable dog leashes that support two dogs on one leash. Effective solution for multitasking your dogs and being able to use at least one hand. But get yourself a shorter leash because it is almost impossible to control two dogs on a long leash.

What makes a great retractable dog leash

Weight limit – size matters

It’s not the same having a miniature pup and having a dog that you could ride into battle. Weight limits for leashes are there for a good reason. If your pet exceeds the weight limit of his leash, it will give him the most unpleasant feeling in the world, like carrying a dress that is two sizes smaller.

Of course, there is a great danger he might easily break the leash and get into some kind of an accident. On the other hand, if your small pooch uses a leash for the big boys, it could injure his little neck. Always stay in the weight limits.

Brake, recoil and lock control of the retractable dog leash

The sole purpose and the main argument of using the retractable dog leash is its multifunctionality.

The brake function stops your pet from pulling the leash further than you want.

The recoil control makes the physical effort of stopping your pet easier while keeping you from injuries caused by a sudden twitch of the leash.

The lock control lets you choose the exact length of the leash that you want to use and “lock” that length so it becomes fixed.

All the control buttons must be placed in that position and order to make the retractable dog leash easy to handle with just one hand.

Additional features – I want them all and I want them now!

The more the merrier. For you, of course, because all the additional features serve mostly as a help to the dog owner. Choose the handle with the firm grip, that won’t slip out of your sweaty hands.

Also, pick the handle that suits the size of your hands, for safety reasons, and if your hands are larger than average, be ready to dig deeper in the world of leashes, because the standard size can be pretty small.

Reflecting ribbons on the handle and the LED lights are a necessity for your night trips to ensure that you can see and be seen.

Some retractable dog leashes even come with a bag compartment so you can easily clean your dog’s mess while some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on their leashes if they are maintained properly.

Of course, the market is flooded with a variety of different colors, shapes and even personalized retractable dog leashes.

Does Spending More Means More Quality?

The quality comes with a certain price and sometimes the price isn’t small, and that is a fact applicable to all products. An excellent dog grooming scissors cost more than a regular one, but with a reason.

Don’t make a mistake buying cheap copies made from untested materials, because you are putting you and your pet in the risk of injuries or worse.

Always buy your retractable dog leash from tested, verified company or seller as a guarantee of quality. Do your research and pick the best choice for your pet, and the price won’t mean a thing. After all, does your dog’s love and safety have a price? I thought so. Good choice.

How To Clean and Maintain a Retractable Dog Leash

How to clean and maintain a retractable dog leash

It would be best to clean the retractable dog leash after every use, especially after your pet has had some muddy adventures. Extend the leash to its maximum length and put it in a lock position.

Use a mild detergent to carefully and thoroughly wash the entire surface, then clean the clip, casing and the handle with a piece of a damp cloth.

The best solution is to let it dry in the sun, fully extended. Considering it may take a while, especially for the longer leashes, it’s not a bad idea to purchase additional, spare leash.

Don’t put back the wet leash in the casing because the mechanism could get rusty. Never let your dog use the retractable dog leash as a chew toy, as it could damage it an injure his teeth.

Spray your leash with bitter spray to get rid of that nasty habit. Generally, keep your leash as far away from water, mud, extreme temperature and pet teeth as you can.

Do a regular check of brake, recoil and lock functions and if you have the slightest doubt they don’t work as they should, don’t use the leash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the retractable dog leashes dangerous for your dog?

Yes, and no. Any piece of equipment is dangerous when it is carelessly used. After seeing all the facts, the retractable dog leashes are no more dangerous than the traditional one, when used properly.

Just read the manuals and ask for help if you are not sure about some function of the leash. And remember: quality materials make a great safe leash.

Can you use the retractable dog leash on the water adventures?

Of course, it is even highly recommended. Just take the security precautions and get your dog the best lifesaving dog jacket so you can both enjoy some swimming with no worries.

My retractable dog leash is full of some kind of small white flakes and dog hair. Why is that happening?

The most common diagnosis is that your dog has a dry skin condition and is shedding his fur full of dandruff on the leash.

Consult a veterinarian and buy your pet an effective dog shampoo for dry skin. Don’t worry, the dry skin is easily treatable. Keep your leash clean and contact the vet if it happens again.

In what situations should I avoid using the retractable dog leash?

Avoid using the leash in a very crowded area, where your pet must be near you all the time. That includes public events,  all sorts of public transports or even walking through a crowded city.

Furthermore, avoid it if you are going to a dog event or any kind of place that includes lots of animals in a smaller place, like a waiting room in the veterinarian’s office.

Short conclusion

In the end, it all depends on you. Just because some people don’t have the necessary skills to use them, doesn’t mean that the leashes are evil and should be forbidden.

Educate your self on that matter and don’t give up. There is a wide selection on the market so pick one that will guarantee your furry son maximum comfort and safety. After that, take him to a park and chase some squirrels together. Enjoy.

Photos from: Westsib /, damedeeso /, nadisja /, mipan /

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