The Advantages of a Retractable Leash
If you are a dog owner and you are not familiar with retractable leashes, take a look around the park next time you’re out walking your dog.
See that dog off in the distance, the one wagging its tail as it follows some fascinating scent off into the underbrush? That’s one happy dog.
Look at its owner, standing far away from all those prickly bushes and nasty bugs, smiling as she watches her dog having the time of it’s life — chances are she’s using a retractable leash.
A retractable leash is a dog leash that is designed to extend and retract as your dog moves around.
A spool of leash on a spring in the handheld compartment winds up as your dog extends the leash and then retrieves it at your dog comes back or you move towards it.
All good models have a brake to slow down your dog and a ‘stop’ function to lock the leash in place at the desired length.
Retractable leashes are generally much longer than a standard 6ft fixed-length leash, with lengths ranging from 10ft–26ft. They give your dog plenty of freedom and autonomy to explore the world around them, while giving you excellent control over your dog.
Retractable leashes have many advantages over traditional fixed-length leashes, here are just a few:
- They are an excellent training tool. The length and lightweight construction of these leashes make your dog feel like it is running free, this allows you to iron out any behavioral kinks in a more authentic training environment.
- A retractable leash also gives your dog the freedom to explore the world more autonomously while remaining safely under your control. Allowing your dog to explore on its own, can increase its self-confidence and belief in its natural abilities.
- There is no need to use sudden force to control your dog as with fixed-length leashes. The distance between you and your dog can be controlled more fluidly through the application of gradual pressure on the brake button.
- The final reason is slightly selfish, but the length of these leashes allows your dog to go places without you, such as rough terrain to chase a squirrel, or the pouring rain outside to do its business while you stay dry and under cover.
Retractable leashes are an excellent choice for walking your dog when away from home. If you want to give your dog the freedom to run around in the backyard but don’t want to use traditional fencing or want to take additional precautions, check out our reviews of the best shock collars here.
Using Retractable Leashes Safely
While a good retractable dog leash can provide many advantages to a fixed-length leash, knowing how to use a retractable leash correctly is important.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to safely using a retractable leash:
- While retractable leashes allow your dog to enjoy the environment, always be alert and keep an eye on your dog’s surroundings. The further away your dog is, the less control you have over it and any situation it might get itself into. An unwatched dog on a long leash can get tangled, run into traffic or make unwanted contact with other animals or people.
- For anybody who has experienced it, a medium or large dog in full flight is not easy to stop! It is important to actively monitor your dog’s mood and the length of leash you are giving it. If your Rottweiler took off at a full bolt right now to chase that shiny car, would you be able to stop it safely? Dogs can be seriously injured or maimed by the sudden stop when they reach the end of their leash if they are moving at speed, so it is important to select only the highest quality leashes. The best retractable dog leash will have a good quality brake to slow your dog down gradually, along with a ‘stop’ button that holds the desired length of leash securely.
- Retractable leash leads are designed to be thinner and more compact in order to fit into the handheld case. The best retractable dog leash should be made of strong and high quality material, as a strong and energetic dog can quickly wear out and break an inferior quality leash. Not only does this pose a danger to your dog as it is loose and uncontrolled in the world at large, but sudden breakages can cause the leash to ricochet and hit you or someone else close by.
Criteria Used to Find the Best Retractable Dog Leash
If used safely, a retractable leash can be a valuable and convenient addition to a dog owner’s toolkit. However while there are thousands of retractable dog leashes out there, they are not all created equal and finding the best retractable dog leash was not a simple task!
This article will comprehensively break down the 5 best leashes on the market in order to find the best retractable dog leash for you and your dog. To do this effectively and in a uniform manner, we will use three criteria: safety, durability and value.
The best retractable dog leash should satisfy all or most of the criteria below:
- Safety will evaluate how safe a leash is overall, taking into account the smoothness of the brake and stop mechanism, leash visibility and lighting add-ons (if any). This criteria will also examine whether the leash comes in different sizes so you can choose a leash tailored towards your specific breed size, reducing the chance of purchasing an underpowered leash.
- Design/Features will examine the quality, design and visual appeal of the product, along with the number of features and add-ons on offer.
- Value will weigh up the overall ‘value for money’ of the leash with regard to the price, features and any added extras the leash comes with. This criteria will also take into account whether or not a leash comes with a guarantee and if so, the duration of the guarantee.
We’ve searched high and low to find the single best retractable dog leash. While all of these leashes are in the top 90% of leashes on the market right now, in order to compare them we’ve scored them against one another.
So without further ado, here are the 5 best retractable dog leashes on offer in 2017!
Finding the Best Retractable Dog Leash: 5 of the Top Contenders Compared
#5 Cloud 9 — Retractable Tape Leash
This product from Cloud 9 offers good looks and intuitive design at a competitive price point.
Safety — Cloud 9 advertise this model as suitable for dogs up to 110lbs. This leash has a simple and easy to use all-in-one push down brake that stops the leash extending when pushed up.
While it seems able to handle small to medium dogs, this leash is underpowered for dogs closer to the 110lbs rating and the internal mechanism feels strained when pulled by stronger, bigger breeds.
The model does not have a high-vis leash or a light add-on for better visibility at night or dusk.
Design/Features — This leash has decent features, with 16ft of leash, an ergonomic handle, anti-tangle feeder and a single brake/stop button.
The Cloud 9 leash also has some nice touches such as a chrome collar clip and grip ridges on the brake/stop button.
It is a visually appealing leash and comes in a red and black or red and blue color scheme.
All this being said, it is not a comfortable leash for people with bigger hands and it can be a struggle to grip the handle with all four fingers.
Another drawback is that the collar clip is a little undersized for bigger dogs with larger collar rings, making it a struggle to fasten the collar clip quickly and easily.
Value — At 19.97 USD this leash provides better than average value and combines decent functionality with good looks.
It also comes with a clip-on waste bag holder that attaches to the handle, along with a generous 5 waste bag rolls and a free eBook with training tips and treat recipes
This model also comes with a 1-year replacement or money-back guarantee.
Overall, while this product may not be the best retractable dog leash on this list, it is a decent entry-level leash. While it is advertised as a ‘one size fits all’ product, it does not sufficiently cater to larger breeds.
Consider this leash if you have a medium to small dog (and the hands to match) and want good basic features at a reasonable price with a warranty included.
#4 Flexi — New Classic Leash
The Flexi New Classic leash is a robust and well made ‘workhorse’ leash. It provides an excellent balance of safety, features and value.
Safety — This leash has a variety of safety features. It comes in 3 sizes (small, medium and large) with the small and medium models using a cord-type leash, while the large model features a tape leash.
It incorporates Flexi’s newly released short-stroke braking system which ensures a smoother and more fluid braking experience.
While the leashes themselves are not reflective, a Flexi LED lighting system add-on can be purchased. This clips on neatly to the side of the leash and combines an ultra-bright LED forward light with a separate, backward facing, red light.
One drawback of the small and medium models is that they are the only leashes on this list that utilize a cord leash instead of a tape leash.
When compared with tape leashes, cord leashes are thinner and so more prone to snapping under pressure or being chewed through, they are also more prone to causing friction burns and are harder to untangle.
Design/Features — The New Classic comes in lengths of 10ft for the extra-small model and 16ft for all other models, the leash extends and retracts smoothly and the brake/stop button can be easily operated with a single finger.
This leash also features a chrome collar clip with a rubber stop that protects the anti-tangle guide if the leash retracts quickly.
Along with the lighting add-on, the New Classic can also take a clip-on Flexi mutli box that can store treats or a roll of dog waste bags.
While there are 4 colors to choose from (black, blue, pink and red), the case is one solid color making this leash a little plain from a visual perspective.
Value — The Flexi New Classic provides very good value and combines smooth operation with a range of add-ons.
Although add-ons must be purchased separately, this won’t break the bank, as the basic unit is well priced at 18.89 USD. This model also comes with Flexi’s standard 2 year warranty.
Overall, this is a solid leash that gets solid marks across all three criteria.
Consider this leash if you are looking for a good balance of safety, features and value at a reasonable price.
#3 Flexi — Vario Tape Leash
The Flexi Vario leash is the frontrunner when it comes to comfort and customization options. It is also a top-three contender when it comes to finding the best retractable dog leash.
No other leash provides such an excellent blend of comfort and range of useful add-ons.
Safety — This leash gets high marks for safety. The brake/stop button uses the same design as the New Classic and is smooth and easy to use.
It is available in 5 different sizes, so you are sure to find a size that is perfect for your dog. The leash takes an innovative LED flash belt add-on that illuminates the leash leader so your dog’s position is always visible.
The leash is also compatible with the same LED lighting system as the Flexi New Classic model.
Design/Features — This leash has a number of further add-ons available thanks to Flexi’s innovative multibelt system that enables other leaders to be clipped onto the leash.
Additional leads include the Vario soft stop belt, a stretchable leader that slows your dog down gradually instead of suddenly and the Vario duo belt, a two leash leader that allows two small dogs to be walked on the same leash.
The Vario can also take the Flexi mutli box add-on. Leash lengths range from 10ft for the extra small leash, to a whopping 26ft for the largest leash.
The Vario also has a very convenient adjustable handle feature that can accommodate all hand sizes.
Visually the Vario is one of the best looking leashes on the market, with five colors to choose from (anthracite, blue, brown, pink, red and turquoise). These colors contrast nicely with the grey detailing on the case and matching color leashes.
Value — The Vario ranges in price from 12.66 USD for the smallest leashes, to 28.99 USD for the largest ones.
Add-ons do need to be purchased separately, however and this can quickly increase the price.
In order to have a leash that scores as highly as it does in the other two criteria, an investment in add-ons will be necessary.
Overall this is a high quality leash with excellent design and a modern look. While the Vario is in a class of its own when it comes to features and add-ons, this comes at a cost.
Consider this leash if price is not your main concern and comfort, style and customizability are most important to you.
- Check the price here on Amazon
- See the flash-belt here on Amazon
- Get the soft-stop lead here on Amazon
- Get the multi-lead here on Amazon
- Check out other unbiased reviews here
#2 Pet Neat — Retractable Tape Leash
The Pet Neat retractable leash comes in very close second for the title of ‘best retractable dog leash out there today’. This leash provides scintillating value for money while also being more than capable of doing the job for all breed sizes.
Safety — This leash receives high marks in the safety category. While the leash is a ‘one size fits all’ model, it caters to all dog sizes extremely well.
It is sensitive enough to walk small dogs comfortably, while also being robust and rugged enough to handle larger breeds — truth be told, we think this leash could handle a small horse!
The heavy duty spring extends smoothly and easily but also retracts excess leash with authority.
The one button braking and stop button is convenient and smooth and when the leash is locked to ‘stop’ it is completely unmovable.
While this model does not come with an attachable light, the casing of this model and the leash are bright yellow and show up nicely in low light conditions.
Design/Features — While this model may not have the customization options of the Vario, it has all the features of an excellent retractable leash and it executes these features well.
It has a chrome collar clip with rubber protector, an anti-tangle feeder, smooth one button brake/stop with finger grips and a large and comfortable ergonomic handle that can take a clip-on waste bag roll.
Visually, the bright yellow and black color scheme combine well with the chunky design of the casing, making this a ruggedly handsome leash.
Value — The Pet Neat Retractable leash provides unbeatable value for money. It combines excellent design and durability with safety and simplicity.
It also comes with four added e-books and a complimentary clip-on waste bag holder and bag roll.
This leash is currently priced at an outstanding 14.99 USD (down from 25 USD) and provides far and above the best value for money we could find.
On top of all this, the product comes with a lifetime guarantee, that’s right, you read that correct, a LIFETIME GUARANTEE.
If the leash malfunctions or breaks due to a construction or mechanical error, you can send it back for a replacement or a full refund. How often do you get that!
Overall this leash provides unmatched value for money and is the best retractable dog leash for price and value conscious people that we could find.
Consider this leash if: you are looking for excellent quality and value at an exceptional price.
#1 Flexi — Giant Tape Leash
The best retractable dog leash we found was the Flexi Giant retractable leash.
Extremely robust and made with medium to larger dogs in mind, this leash melds cutting-edge design and outstanding performance with size and ruggedness that inspires confidence — it’s also a very good looking leash to boot!
Design/Features — This leash is excellent from a safety perspective, with a highly visible fluorescent yellow leash that allows you to easily and confidently keep track of your dog in low light conditions.
The two-button brake/stop mechanism can be operated with one finger, feels effortless and has the smoothest action of all the leashes.
The model also comes in three sizes (medium, large and extra-large) and can handle dog sizes between 55lbs–110lbs — that’s not to say that you can’t walk a smaller dog on the medium sized leash, however.
While we have deducted minor points for there being no light attachment, the high-visibility lead provides an excellent trade-off between safety, visibility and cost effectiveness.
Features — This model has a large and very comfortable ergonomic grip that is suitable for all hand sizes.
The leash casing tilts towards the floor and is superbly balanced, ensuring there is no pressure on the wrist (unlike some forward facing models), making it a very comfortable leash to hold for extended periods.
The leash extends and retracts very smoothly and all sizes come with 26ft of leash.
While the Flexi Giant 26ft leash is thicker and stronger than other leashes on the market, it is still light enough to stay off the ground at extended lengths.
It is also a great looking leash, with an aggressive, design and a black and grey casing that contrasts beautifully with the fluorescent yellow leash.
The only minor drawback here, is that this leash does not have a clip-on dog waste roll.
Value — Prices for the Flexi Giant range from 28.99 USD for the medium model to USD 42.16 for the extra-large version.
While this may be more than some of the leashes on this list, when you pay for superior quality you get it and we consider the price to be competitive when weighed against the product on offer.
The leash also comes with Flexi’s standard 2 year warranty.
Overall the Flexi Giant is the ‘Ferrari’ of retractable leashes and its robustness and smooth operation instil complete confidence in its user. Simply put, this is the best retractable dog leash on the market right now.
Consider this leash if you want a confidence boosting leash that is powerful but smooth and is of impeccable quality.
*Bonus Leash* Flexi — Leather Retractable Tape Leash
We couldn’t finish this article without quickly mentioning one last leash that caught our eye — the very stylish and sophisticated Flexi Leather retractable leash.
Suitable for small and medium dogs up to 55lbs, this leash exudes style and is a must-have for people who pride themselves on looking better than the competition.
This leash comes in black or brown, with white stitching that provides a beautiful visual contrast to the goatskin leather.
The collar clip of the black version comes in polished chrome while the brown model sports a chic gold colored clip.
The attention to detail of this product is outstanding, with the brake/stop button boasting leather highlights and the length of the 16ft leash being finished with noble leather trim.
Style and quality are never cheap and the Flexi Leather leash is no exception, with the black version costing 117.50 USD and the brown version coming in at 119.25 USD.
This is the leash to use when you want to be seen in your gated community or if you are taking your dog for a walk around your estate! best retractable dog leash
Did you like this rundown? Check out our other comprehensive rundown on the best dog shampoos on the market today, or take a look at our super-informative article on ‘Can dogs eat apples and other fruits?’.