I am a three-dog guy, so I know a thing or two about finding the perfect gear for pups. Over the years I have used a number of dog leashes: flat leashes, rope leashes, slip leads, and more. I’ve even tried making my own leash with old climbing rope and carabiners. The dog gear world is constantly evolving, and lately, companies have upped the game with dog leashes. The quality, design, and functionality of modern options make it easy to safely and securely walk your dog in all kinds of environments.
Why You Need a Great Dog Leash
At its simplest, a leash physically attaches your dog to you. Truth be told, leashes used to annoy me—I preferred to let my boys roam the woods and trails uninhibited. But the reality is that most places are simply too unsafe for your dog to be off-leash, and now that I live in a city, my dogs’ well-being is of the utmost importance. In addition, most towns and cities—and many trails—have leash laws for pets.
Sure, you can attach any old rope to your dog and call it a dog leash, but finding the perfect option for your pal makes it easier and safer to get out on walks, hikes, and other adventures.
Selecting the Right Leash
My pups could not be more different in size, breed, and temperament, which makes it difficult to find the perfect leash that will work for all three. The oldest (my partner’s dog Murphy), is a seven year old Cavapom weighing in at about 20 pounds. His size and leash anxiety make him prone to tracheal collapse, so a gentle, lightweight lead is essential. My largest, Benny, is an 85-pound horse of a lab mix with strength, speed, and energy to spare. While he’s a good walker, something stout and reliable helps me keep him safely by my side. And finally, Rio, the youngest, weighs 50 pounds. He is a high prey-drive heeler mix, so I like to go with hands-free or very comfortable options to better handle his unannounced squirrel lunges.
When shopping for dog leashes, consider your dog(s) and their temperament. Understanding the size and behavior of your sidekick helps you narrow down your options. You should also consider the specific places where you’ll use the leash. While cotton leashes are comfortable, nylon and polyester typically hold up a lot longer and are better for hikes and camping. For urban environments, a shorter leash (or one that can be shortened) is often smart. And don’t forget to think about your own comfort and walking preferences. Whether you want to walk hands-free, need comfy hand grips, or want a leash with some extra style, these priorities should also factor into a dog leash decision.
To guide your shopping, I’ve rounded up 12 great dog leashes for a variety of canines and circumstances. Note: I use the terms “dog leash” and “dog lead” interchangeably.