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

As any dog handler, owner or walker will tell you that the retractable dog leash is among the most significant inventions.

It allows your furry friend to wander a little further to chase a squirrel, sniff the shrubs, or even take a pee but remain within reach.

The item will conveniently retract back into its housing, and this prevents the leash from getting entangled on/ in objects, or you have to roll it back manually.

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

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

Thanks to modern technology, today’s leashes are lighter but stronger, recoil back silently and smoothly, and can handle even the heaviest of dogs.

A retractable leash is often a thin length of cord wrapped around a spring-loaded device housed inside a plastic handle that fits comfortably in a human hand. A button on the handle controls the amount of cord that extends.

Well-behaved dogs have more freedom to explore, smell interesting spots, mark new locations and run on ahead.

With extra freedom can come more self-confidence; thanks to their good behavior, they’ve earned a little more fun and exercise, without being attached to their owner’s side.

Many people use the retractable leash as an advanced tool, once a dog has learned and obeys commands.

Retractable leashes can be used during training sessions to practice being called to “heel” or “back” on walks. If control is a problem, you should take your dog to a secluded, safe area and practice his recall.

Retractable leashes allow your dog to explore the area, letting him go out as far as the leash will go.

When it’s time to call him back, the retractable leash gives you control if he doesn’t listen.

By using the switch on this type of leash, you can reel him back in if he is distracted during his lesson.

How does it work

A retractable leash is just like any other leash except it has one major difference, it enables your dog to walk farther away from you, while you are still being able to control where it goes. It does this using a mechanism built n the handgrip.

This handgrip usually comes with a stop or brake button that tightens the slack or rope of how far away from you your dog is able to go.

There are some retractable dog leashes that come with a button you push to stop the rope from getting longer and there are those that come with a hand grip in which you constantly hold to ensure that your dog is not able to get away from you.

Having a retractable dog leash is a great piece of walking accessory as you are able to let your dog roam free, get into all the smells and of the surrounding area without you having to worry if your dog is going to come back to you when you call him.

The only other way to give this sort of freedom to your dog is without a leash and that can be a dangerous task to do especially when you consider what might happen if you and your dog were to run into other people and their dogs.

Retractable leash vs other leashes

Retractable Leash

A retractable leash is a leash with a spooled line stored in a handle. They usually extend anywhere from 10 to 25 feet and have a built-in locking button to prevent your pet from traveling farther than you’re comfortable.

It works more like a tape measure than a winch, so you won’t be able to reel your dog in but it will keep your leash taut while your dog explores its surroundings.

Retractable leashes are incredibly convenient if you love letting your dog explore without controlling him every step of the way.

They’re ideal for use in large, open spaces where environmental dangers are minimal.

Traditional Leash

Traditional Dog Leash

The anatomy of your traditional leash usually involves a rope made of nylon or leather, with a looped handle on one end and a collar clip on the other.

Leashes come in a variety of lengths, sizes, materials so you can find one to fit your style.

You can’t really go wrong with a classic leash, but its unchanging length does little to accommodate situations where you want your dog to run free or free-ish.

What makes a great retractable dog leash?

What makes a great retractable dog leash


The length you end up choosing will depend on a few factors, notably the areas that you plan on walking and how well behaved your dog is.

For perfectly-mannered pooches that you plan on walking in open meadows, parks, and grassland – a super long lead can work a treat.

Leash type

There has been quite a lot of confusion from dog owners wondering whether they should buy a cord or tape leash and whether there is even any difference between the two. Well, the truth is, there is a difference.

Cord-style leashes are often the lighter-weight option and can work for smaller dogs, but they also pose a greater risk of possible injury, whereas the tape-style leash is stronger and can work for small and large dogs.

Number of dogs

Typically, retractable leashes are meant for one dog only. This is because there are so many variables associated with using a leash on one dog, so it is even riskier using it on more than one or having more than retractable leash at a time.

Weight limit

All retractable leashes come with weight advisements, meaning they should only be used with dogs that weigh up to a certain amount.

When you use a retractable leash on a dog that exceeds the weight limit, you are likely to have that leash snap should the dog decide to run off, or you try to hold the dog in place.

Brake, recoil and lock control

Most retractable leashes offer a stop or lock button. These essentially work by pressing against the coil of leash available, or against the strand currently being released. This stops the leash from being released any further.

There are two main types of mechanism. In first, a stop button pauses the leash being let out, which stops your canine from moving further away.

To do this, you simply press down on the button, which you’ll usually find on the top of the leash handle.

The second type works in much the same way as the first, except that it also offers the dog owner the option of locking the stop button in place, meaning that it can stay in a stop position without the owner needing to hold the button down.

Additional features

There are certain attachments that you can buy for your retractable dog leash to make them even more useful.

Some of the most popular attachments are; an attachable flashlight, poop bag holder, and even a treat holding pouch.

Does spending more means more quality

It is easy to believe that the more you spend the more quality you get, but sometimes this isn’t always the case.

This was something that I thought was true as well, but I have been able to discover that sometimes the cheaper stuff is actually better.

Now, this does not mean there aren’t cheap retractable dog leashes that do not pass the test, it just simply means you have to take it on a retractable dog leash by retractable dog leash case.

How to clean and maintain a retractable dog leash

How to clean and maintain a retractable dog leash

It’s tempting to just toss your dog’s equipment into a machine washable bag and then throw the whole thing in the washer.

Some manufacturers specifically allow that in their care instructions. If that’s the case then go for it (on the hand wash setting if you have one).

But most manufacturers recommend against using machines. High quality gear usually includes something more than a strip of woven nylon and a plastic clip.

The best equipment relies on a combination of different materials, advanced stitching methods, protective coatings, and more to keep your dog safe and comfortable. Those things don’t react well to machine washing.

Hand washing is always a safe bet. But hand washing means different things depending on what you’re washing.

Below are some basic guidelines based on common materials used for collars, harnesses, and leashes.

Whatever method you use to clean the main part of the gear there might also be some hardware that requires additional maintenance.

The stainless steel O-ring and plastic clips have different requirements than the nylon harness they’re attached to.

These parts might not get stinky, but they can degrade over time if not properly maintained. So be sure to follow the care guidelines for the hardware, too.

Dos and Don’ts to do with a retractable dog leash


  • Make sure you check these leads frequently for signs of malfunction because they can, and frequently do, snap or break
  • Train your dog in basic obedience skills and recall rather than relying totally on an extendable lead to manage your dog and to get him back
  • Remember that not everyone will want your dog to approach them, so when passing other walkers, keep the mechanism locked on the shortest setting
  • Buy the best quality extendable lead you can afford.  Those constructed with a webbing lead are preferable to the ones made with cord
  • Use these leads in farm land or woodlands, especially with dogs that have the tendency to chase wildlife or livestock.  But again, beware of strong dogs who may forge ahead suddenly and snap the handle out of your grasp
  • Remember, if you have difficulty controlling your dog in general, these sorts of leads are going to be unsuitable. If your dog pulls, runs away, is over exuberant or aggressive with other dogs or people, putting him on a twelve foot bungee, unfortunately, is not going to solve the problem!  Far better to enroll in some good dog training classes as your first port of call


  • Use these leads on dogs that tend to be reactive or aggressive – things can happen all too quickly before you have had time to operate the locking mechanism.
  • Let your dog get the lead tangled around another person’s legs or another dog.  This is very hazardous from the point of view of accidents and is potential for conflict (with dogs and other dog owners!).
  • Expect to stop your dog from pulling on this type of lead; they encourage the behavior of forging ahead and wandering off, so it may not be the best choice if you have a large breed of dog that is liable pull you off your feet.  Consider instead a gentle leader head collar and ordinary strong leather or webbing lead.
  • Allow your dog to wander too far in public places and always be aware of what your dog is doing.
  • Use these leads on the extended setting anywhere near public highways. Your dog could step into the path of a car or dart into the road long before you have a chance to reel your dog in or grapple with the lock.

Short Conclusion

You don’t have to restrict your dog too much because of a short lease. You shouldn’t worry about manually recoiling or folding a leash.

Also, you should not use a product that can harm your dog or inconvenience you. What you or any other dog owner requires is a retractable leash.

It comes with a longer length than the traditional one, recoils back into its housing with ease, comes in a lightweight for easy handling, and works with different types and breeds of dogs.

This article shows you what you need to consider when searching for the best retractable dog leashes in the market.

They have to be well built from durable materials, be easy to operate, work smoothly and efficiently, and are safe to the dog as well as the user.

They also are of high quality, durable, easy to maintain, and affordable. Walking with your dog should, therefore, be more rewarding and exciting.

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

Related articles you may also like:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This