Retractable dog leashes are loved by some and loathed by others. Whilst it is true that they can cause problems, in the right hands they are very useful for dog owners. They allow your dog the freedom to sniff around without you having to be at their shoulder all the time. Also, they can ‘scout ahead’ when you are out on walks which they will love!
Provided you carefully follow the safety guidelines for retractable leads, you can keep yourself and your pooch safe. They are not suitable for all dogs and you must choose one with the correct weight rating. If you are thinking of getting one for your dog, you will find it useful to read our guide to the best retractable dog leashes.
The Best Retractable Dog Leash
You can walk your dog confidently in open areas with this retractable dog lead. It is designed to be used every day and is strong and durable. It is made from nylon ribbon which is fray-proof and extends to 16 feet. The lead is contained in a strong ABS plastic casing that also has an ergonomic grip for your safety and an anti-slip handle. It operates via a release and recoiling system which is operated by one hand. It has a strong spring and smoothly retracts and is weatherproof so it works at all temperatures.
The operation is simple – when you flick the lever, the leash comes back. When you repeatedly flick it, it acts as a brake so your dog does not get a sudden stop. It’s easy to lock it in any position by pressing the button. You can use it for any breed of dog up to 110lbs and you get a plastic bone-shaped container full of poop bags that fits neatly onto the handle.
ABS plastic casing with ergonomic grip
Fray-proof, nylon ribbon lead
For dogs up to 110 pounds
Easy to lock in position
- Weight12.5 ounces
A very comfortable and strong retractable leash that will suit any dog up to 110 pounds. It has a handle that is comfortable for your grip and that is anti-slip for your dog’s safety. To operate the leash, you just hold the handle and the retracting mechanism will keep the leash tight. At any time, you can stop the leash from extending by pressing the brake button using your thumb. As soon as you let it go, the leash is released.
The mechanism is strong and durable. There is also a lock system which fixes the leash at one length. The leash is made from a nylon ribbon which will extend to a full 16 feet which gives your dog plenty of freedom.
16-foot nylon leash
Strong and durable mechanism
Can be locked at one length
- ModelHeavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash
- Weight12 ounces
This is a strong and durable retractable leash that is available in three colors. It is also available in three sizes; the small size is for dogs under 33 pounds, the medium size is for dogs under 55 pounds and the large size is for dogs up to 110 pounds. It has a lock and brake button which can be set at one of four positions: free, pause, lock and unlock. The leash length is 16 feet.
Because of the patented, tangle-free design, the retraction opening will work irrespective of the angle that your dog is at in relation to the lead without snagging at the opening. It is extremely tough and durable yet the design is sleek and stylish. The retraction is smooth and the unit has an anti-slip grip handle that is comfortable to grip even when used for long periods.
Comfortable grip handle
Three available sizes
Can be purchased in three colors
- Weight1.05 pounds
A lightweight and compact retractable dog lead that is available in three sizes. The medium size is for any dog weighing up to 44 pounds. It has a 16 foot retractable cord leash that is made from reflective nylon so it will show up at night and keep your dog (and other people) safe.
The casing of this flexi leash also has reflective stickers and is neon-colored so you cannot miss it in poor light conditions. It is very convenient to use, it has a single-handed operation using the brake button but there is also a permanent stop feature for when you need to fix the length of the leash. Your dog has plenty of freedom with this flexi dog leash but is safe at the same time.
16 ft retractable cord leash
Leash made from reflective nylon
Neon casing with reflective stickers
- ModelPN2.266.S NEO.15
- Weight6.9 ounces
A complete three-in-one set of everything you need when you are heading out for a walk with your pooch. With this device you can control your dog with one hand and your other hand and pockets are free. You get an extendable dog lead, an LED flashlight and a poop bag dispenser. All you have to do is grab it and go.
The casing of the retractable leash is made from heavy duty ABS plastic which is durable and can withstand impact so you don’t have to worry about dropping it. The leash itself is a massive 26 feet long so your dog has loads of freedom. It is made from stitched double nylon tape for maximum strength. It has a swivel snap hook that prevents it from twisting. This leash is suitable for any breed of dog up to 110 pounds. Whatever the size of your hand, you will find the handle comfortable thanks to the ergonomic design and anti-slip rubberized coating. You operate it by pressing a large button lock and a smaller button to unlock the leash.
Impact resistant casing
Swivel hook to prevent twisting
Anti-slip and ergonomic handle
LED flashlight and poop bag included
- Weight1.14 pounds
An extendable dog lead that can be comfortably used by any adult and children thanks to the anti-slip and ergonomic handle. It enables you to retain control of your pooch whilst they have a good sniff around! It will suit any size dog up to a maximum weight of 110 pounds. It has a very strong nylon cable that resists chewing and will not fray or snap. There is a chrome-plated snap hook that has a reinforced joint to give you total confidence in its strength and durability.
Inside the tough plastic casing, there is a recoil spring that will carry on working even at freezing temperatures. The leash is easy to operate, you just lock the leash at any length by pressing the button. In free mode, your pooch can roam freely. It comes with a matching collapsible travel bowl and a poop bag dispenser.
For dogs up to 110 pounds
Spring works at below freezing
Ergonomic design for comfort
- BrandRuff ‘n Ruffus
- Weight1.21 pounds
Just what you need to give your dog the freedom they crave yet keep them safe and under control. You can use this retractable leash for dogs that weigh up to 110 pounds so even the most powerful and large dogs are covered. The leash features a very strong cord which is made from 16 feet of heavy-duty nylon. It also has reflective stitching on the edge so it will show up at night for safety. The internal spring which retracts the cord is also heavy duty and can withstand your dog tugging at it.
The heavy-duty retractable dog leash case is made from materials that are both durable and environmentally friendly and the handle has an ergonomic grip and will not slip out of your hand even when your dog pulls. It operates via a reliable brake and lock system to adjust the length of the leash. All you have to do is push the button down and it locks at the desired length. You can click the button back to reel the cord back in.
Strong nylon cord with reflective edging
Non-slip, ergonomic handle
Reliable brake and lock system
- BrandSHINE HAI
- Weight15.2 ounces
Available in lively blue or black, this is a neat little retractable dog leash that will suit smaller breeds up to 26 pounds in weight. It could also be used for cats, rabbits or other small animals. It features a quick lock mechanism where you can lock or release the leash by just rolling on and off the button with your thumb. There is also a brake button and permanent stop capability and it can all be operated with your one hand.
With this leash, you can keep your cute little pooch safe on walks yet allow them to explore. The leash is just 10 feet long so they will never be that far away from you. It is very durable and thanks to the plated zinc-alloy clip at the point where the leash retracts into the case, you won’t get tangled up. Your pooch gets trouble-free 360 degree movement. The design is very lightweight and compact so it suits adults with small hands and even children
Available in two colors
Compact design for small hands
Suitable for dogs up to 26 pounds in weight
You can buy this retractable dog leash in three possible sizes to suit different breeds. The large leash will suit any dog including large dogs that weigh up to 110 pounds. There is a plastic casing which is a stylish grey color and the handle is soft grip so it will not hurt your hands.
The cord extends to 26 feet so you can let your dog roam in areas where there is plenty of space such as an open field. The leash is also available in extra-large and medium. This is a handmade product which is highly durable and attractive. The long retractable dog leash comes with a safety collar and full instructions on how to use the leash safely.
For dogs weighing up to 110 pounds
Soft grip handle
Handmade and durable
- ModelGT3.210.S NEO.12
- Weight1.31 pounds
Your dog can safely play near you yet have their freedom to roam with this retractable dog leash. It will suit small dogs and large dogs up to 110 pounds. The cord extends to 16.4 inches so your pooch can have plenty of freedom. The casing has been handcrafted and has a soft and ergonomic handle that will not slip. Also, the weather-resistant nylon leash is tear resistant so your dog cannot escape.
This product can help you to reduce pulling and teach your dog to walk politely at heel. It comes with a handy poop bag holder which attaches to the handle and a collapsible bowl for when you are out and about.
Leash extends to 16.4 inches
Suitable for dogs up to 110 pounds
Weather-resistant nylon leash
- Weight1.1 pounds
Best Retractable Dog Leash Buying Guide
Features to Look for in a Retractable Dog Leash
There are several features to look out for when you buying a retractable leash. Here are the main ones.
- Ergonomic anti slip handle. This will prevent the casing from flying out of your hand and causing an injury or startling your dog.
- Think about how long you need the leash to be. You have more control with a longer leash. Also, the size of the handle is important and must suit the user. If you have small hands you may want a small case for comfort.
- You need the recoil to work at low temperatures if you live in a cold climate.
- Weight rating. Get a lead that is strong enough for your dog’s weight. Remember that pups and young dogs are going to get heavier!
- Strong cord. Choose a strong nylon ribbon cord that is chew resistant and preferably is reflective for added safety.
- You need a mechanism that will not let the cord tangle as it retracts inside the casing.
Who Should Use a Retractable Dog Leash?
Retractable leashes are designed to be used by adults of all sizes and by older children. As with all devices, there are some potential dangers associated with using retractable dog leashes. However, it is possible to control most of these dangers and give your dog a safe and pleasant walking experience. There are some circumstances when a retractable leash should not be used and here is a list of the people who should not use a retractable leash.
- People with physical disabilities
These leashes are not designed to be used by people who limited mobility, physical disabilities or weakness in their limbs. They may not be able to control the dog and get them back if they have wandered a long way away.
- Small children
Although many retractable dog leashes have handles that are small enough to comfortably fit a child’s hand, it is not safe to let small children use them.
- People who walk dogs on city streets
If you only ever take your pooch for a walk on crowded city streets or confined areas, these are not for you. They will cause an obstruction and be unsafe.
- People who could be pulled off their feet
These devices work best for people who would not be pulled off-balance by their dog. Therefore, they are ideal for small and medium-sized dogs but you have to exercise great care if you are going to use them with larger dogs.
- Dogs who constantly pull
If your dog has not learned to not pull on a leash, they will not suit a retractable leash. Train them how to walk nicely first.
- Dogs who bolt
It is not safe to have a dog with unpredictable bolting tendencies on a retractable leash. The dog must either not be interested in chasing balls or small mammals or must obey your commands when you tell them to stop!
- Untrained dogs
Dogs at the end of a long leash must be under control. You must be able to control them with your verbal commands.
- Aggressive dogs
If your dog shows signs of aggression towards other animals or people then they cannot use a retractable lead because you will not be able to control them.
Walking Your Dog with a Retractable Dog Leash: Tips, Tricks, and Safety Guidelines
There are some dog owners who are not big fans of the retractable leash. They feel that they are dangerous. However, most are now accepting that provided they are used in the correct way, they can be very useful for most dog owners. Nevertheless, you need to know how to use them correctly.
Retractable Dog Leash Training
Dogs cannot be put on a retractable dog leash if they have not been leash trained. They will just run around and cause a danger to themselves, their owner and other people in the area. Leash training is an essential step of dog training and something that you need to do with your pooch whatever type of leash you intend to use.
You need to start with a fixed length leash to control your dog's behavior, to establish the basic commands and to let them know what they can and cannot do. Once you are confident that your dog can use a fixed-length leash and that you can control them with verbal commands, you can introduce the retractable dog leash. At first, start with a shorter leash. Keep a close eye on your dog and use the same commands as you do with the fixed-length leash.
Never introduce the retractable leash for the first time in a crowded area and gradually increase the length.
Potential Hazards of Retractable Dog Leashes
You need to follow safety procedures and guidelines when you are using a retractable leash. In the wrong hands, they can cause injury to dogs, their owners are other people in the area. Most manufacturers will supply safety advice with the device.
Here are some of the potential hazards that a retractable leash can present.
- Leash extending too far
Even though some retractable leashes will extend as far as 30 feet, it is not wise to use them at this length. Your dog is a long way away from you and could get into situations or locations where they could be seriously injured or could cause injury to others. At that length of leash, your dog could end up on a highway, could cause problems to other dogs or people or could get in the way of pedestrians or cyclists.
- Dogs tangling in the leash
Dogs can get very tangled up in a retractable leash if they run around obstacles. The cord is often quite thin and can cause a nasty injury if it gets wrapped around their limbs or other body parts.
- People tangling in the leash
You or other people can suffer serious injuries if the leash gets caught around your leg or arm. There are reports of occasions where people have got the lead caught around their neck and this could be very serious. When it is extended, it forms a serious trip hazard for pedestrians and cyclists especially in low light conditions.
- Dropped handles
The handles are larger on retractable leashes than on normal leashes and can slip out of your hand. They can lead to greater tangling hazards if they are dropped. The noise of the handle hitting the ground startles many dogs who then bolt but the casing scraping across the floor creates even more noise as the dog runs and this terrifies them. This leads to a dangerous situation which is completely out of control.
- Grabbing at the cord
It may be tempting to grab at the cord to pull your dog back towards you but this can result in burns, lacerations and even the loss of a finger.
- Loss of balance
It is hard to control the weight of a dog that is far away from you. If a dog reaches the end of their leash when they are running, they will pull most adults off their feet. The larger the dog and the smaller the adult, the greater the risk. This can result in cuts, bruises and even fractures for the owner and serious neck, throat or spinal injuries for the dog.
- Breaking the cord
A large dog running at full pelt could easily break the cord. Once the dog’s weight is removed, the cord will recoil rapidly into the casing and can cause serious injuries to the person holding the casing including eye injuries.
How to Use a Retractable Dog Leash Safely
To avoid the above hazards, always read the manufacturer’s safety guidelines and adhere to them carefully. In general, these are the top safety tips.
- Do not use the leash in a congested area. Any location where there are plenty of pedestrians, cyclists and other dogs is a no-go area for retractable leads.
- Carry a standard leash with you just in case.
- If you don’t know what is ahead, lock the leash in a short position. Your dog will spot something to chase before you do!
- Continually watch your dog. Keep the leash taught and avoid other people entering your dog’s circle.
- Stay alert. Dogs on a longer leash are more likely to run into trouble and need to be continually watched.
- Never have two dogs on retractable leashes.
- Use a highly visible leash. A thick and highly visible leash is best.
- Don’t go outside your recall zone. If your dog will only come back to you if they are 20 feet away, don’t let them have 30 feet of leash!
- Be prepared to give up. Some dogs just cannot get on with retractable leashes. Either they run around too much or will not come back to you.
How it Works
Retractable leashes are basically a very long leash that is coiled around a spring. Inside the leash casing, there is a coil that will automatically draw the leash back in unless you lock it into position. When it is locked, a mechanism clamps around the cord so that it will not go out any further.
The cord is usually made out of nylon and can be anywhere up to 26 feet long. Even when the cord is not clamped, you usually have the option of putting a temporary brake on it using a button.
The idea is that your dog will be able to walk close to you or far away from you and the leash will automatically accommodate that by adjusting its own length. However, your dog will always be under control and cannot run away.
The device also allows you to control the length of the leash at any time. Therefore, if you see a tricky situation up ahead, you can temporarily fix the cord at a short length so your dog is kept close to you. It stops you from having to let your dog off a leash and fix them back on.
Best Retractable Dog Leash FAQ:
Q: What length of leash do I need for my dog?
A: This depends on the size of your dog, their behavior and where you are. Most leashes give you at least 16 feet but some do go up to 30 feet or more. You need to select a length that you are comfortable with. It will be hard to find a location where a 30 feet leash would be safe. Larger dogs are safer on shorter leashes.
Q: What is the weight rating and why does it matter?
A: The weight rating is the weight of the dog that the leash can safely restrain. It is very important that your dog does not exceed the weight limit for a retractable leash because it could be dangerous. If a leash snaps, it can cause horrible injuries.
Q: Is it safe to use?
A: Yes, retractable dog leashes are safe to use provided you follow safety guidance. They require care and courtesy but used correctly they can be very useful for most dogs.
Q: I have more than one dog so should I pick the dual leash products instead?
A: It is not safe to have more than one dog on a retractable leash at one time. You cannot monitor them both properly and they could get tangled up. Use a dual leash product instead.
Our Top Pick
Ruffwear - TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash
Our pick for the best retractable dog lead is made from nylon ribbon and extends to 16 feet. The lead is contained in a strong ABS plastic case with an ergonomic grip. The operation is smooth at all temperatures and it can be controlled with one hand.
When you flick the lever, the leash comes back and it can act as a break. It is for breeds that weigh up to 110lbs. It comes with a container full of poop bags.