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7 Types of Dog Leashes

If you think all dog leashes are the same, think again! Here's what you need to know before purchasing one.

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Family walking dog on a leashLWA/Getty Images

Choosing a Dog Leash

Leashes are a must-have for every dog owner. However, many dog owners don’t realize the huge variety of leashes or the options that will best suit their dog. It’s an important decision, so know your options.

Some of the most important factors for choosing a dog leash are:

  1. Size: Bigger dogs are much stronger than smaller dogs, so they need thicker leashes to keep control.
  2. Age: Puppies and younger dogs also need stronger leashes depending on their level of training. If they are not accustomed to walking on leash, they will pull more frequently. Puppies also need a shorter leash for training. Plus, puppies love to chew, so you need a leash impervious to nibbling!
  3. Landscape: Where you call home will impact what kind of leash is needed. Country dogs will have more room to roam, so they could use longer leashes. City dogs, however, may need shorter leashes to keep them safe near busy streets.
  4. Breed: Some breeds can experience serious health problems if you use the wrong leash. That’s especially important for dogs prone to tracheal collapse, like pugs.

Just as there are many factors that go into choosing a leash, there are many types of leashes that address those factors. To adapt to your dog’s specific needs, consider these popular types of leashes:

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Dog leashvia amazon.com

Flat Leads

The flat lead is the standard type of dog leash. It is usually made of nylon or rope, and it can be thick or thin. Flat leads will attach to the dog’s collar with a simple metal clasp.

Pros:

  • The materials used are non-irritating to the dog’s skin.
  • They are washable.
  • They come in many lengths and widths to suit dog breeds of any size.

Cons:

  • Inflexible material.
  • Dogs with wider necks can wiggle out of their collars.
  • Not good for dogs with breathing problems.

The Pawsitive Co. flat lead leash is a great option for you and your dog. The soft nylon material provides comfort, and the one-inch thickness makes it sturdy. Plus, there are many colors available!

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Dog leashvia amazon.com

Rubber Lead (i.e. Bungee)

Bungee leashes are the most popular choice of active dog owners, and even the military. They are often designed to be hands-free. The elasticity protects you and your dog from strain caused by strong and abrupt pulls.

Pros:

  • Great for running and hiking.
  • Good shock-absorption.
  • Often hands-free.

Cons:

  • May encourage, rather than inhibit, pulling.
  • Offers less control of your dog.

Ruffwear’s Roamer Leash is one of the top bungee leashes on the market. Unlike others of its kind, it interlaces elastic into its webbing for the best shock absorption.

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Gentle leadervia amazon.com

Gentle Leaders

Also known as the head collar, the ingenuity of the gentle leader is its halter structure. The collar loops around the neck, behind the ears and over the muzzle. The design is great for dogs who pull a lot because they can’t pull with their full weight.

Pros:

  • Trains against pulling.
  • Great for large, strong dogs.

Cons:

  • Difficult to fit properly.
  • Friction can cause hair loss on mouth.

With more than 20,000 ratings on Amazon, the PetSafe Gentle Leader is a must-have. It’s designed to keep the pressure off your dog’s neck, and is easier to fit than most gentle leaders.

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Dog harnessvia amazon.com

Harness Leaders

Harness leaders are the best option for dogs with tracheal problems. These leaders fit around the chest and clip on the back. Harness leads may not include a leash attachment.

Pros:

  • Easier breathing.
  • Allows for more control over your dog.

Cons:

  • May encouraging pulling behavior.
  • Friction can cause hair loss on back or chest.

The heavy-duty rabbitgoo harness will fit dogs of any size. The cushioning is designed to protect your dog’s skin and fur. And it’s breathable, too!

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Dog leashvia amazon.com

Slip Lead

Slip leads are ideal for training young dogs not to pull. The leash itself functions as a collar by pulling it through a metal ring and looping it around the dog’s neck. It is fast to put on, and fast to take off.

Pros:

  • Can be used to train puppies.
  • Easy to put on/take off.

Cons:

  • Can choke the dog if not positioned properly.
  • Not ideal for long-term use after training.

This slip lead from Pet’s company is five feet long, which provides just the right amount of control over your dog. It’s reflective for dog safety on nighttime walks, too.

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Dog leashvia amazon.com

Martingale

Like the slip lead, a martingale lead can function as a lead and a collar. These leads tighten to the exact size of your dog’s neck through a separate loop of material. This way, the dog cannot slip out of the leash or pull too hard.

Pros:

  • Prevents pulling behavior.
  • Prevents dogs with narrow heads from slipping out.
  • Comfortable fit.

Cons:

  • Difficult to adjust properly.
  • Can choke the dog if the loop gets caught on something or is improperly adjusted.

Haapaw’s Martingale set comes with a collar and a leash. It’s made of thick nylon material, and the leash has a nice foam handle to protect your hand.

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Retractable leashvia amazon.com

Retractable

Retractable leashes allow your dog to run much farther than the average leash without any hassle. You can restrict or release the length with the push of a button. And you don’t have to deal with miles of rope when you are ready to put it away.

Pros:

  • Allows more freedom for your dog.
  • Easy to use and adjust.

Cons:

  • The cord is usually thin, so not ideal for large, strong dogs.
  • No shock absorption.
  • Can cause entanglement.

This TUG retractable leash is designed to prevent tangling and keep your dog safe. It even comes in three sizes to cater to larger dogs.

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John Woods
John Woods is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and has been a dog lover since he was 13 years old. He is also graduate in animal welfare and behavior and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.