Skip to main content

How long should a dog’s leash be?

You should consider several factors when choosing the right type of dog leash for your pet. For one, the length of your dog’s leash has a deep influence on his behavior. Give them too much reign and they can become unruly and wild. If you keep it too short, you can overpower, intimidate, and even choke your pet. So, how long should my dog’s ideal leash be? Well, you are looking for a happy medium where your dog feels peaceful, controlled, and free to move next to you.

Leashes by type

Dog holding leash in its mouth
GK HartVikki Hart/Getty Images

Choosing the right leash for your dog might feel overwhelming when you encounter the massive amount of options out there. From simple rope to fancy leather, there is one for all tastes and needs. Here are the main types of leashes available:

Related Videos
  • Standard dog leashes
  • Short dog leashes
  • Long leashes
  • Longline leashes for field training
  • Rope slips
  • Handleless leashes

Choosing the perfect length

For most dogs, a 6-foot leash is ideal for them to have room to explore but minimizes slack. This will allow for better control during an altercation and avoid accidental tangling. In some cases, especially with energetic or unruly pets, a 4-foot leash will signal stronger leadership. This length will keep the owner in command of the dog. For trained dogs, there is more flexibility and ultimately depends on the individual dog and owner comfort level.

Thick or thin?

Another critical feature of your leash is the width. This is extremely relevant with bigger breeds and larger dogs. Big doggos love to chew on their leashes and have a very strong pull when they are being walked. The wider your leash, the smaller the risk of it snapping when your German Shepherd chases after a squirrel.

For smaller dogs, a thin, lightweight leash is the way to go. They are less restrictive and remarkably helpful when introducing your puppy to early training. This way they feel unrestricted to explore but start experiencing their collar.

Retractable leashes: Are they any good?

blue retractable dog leash
Marco Verch/Flickr

One of the most popular models out there is the retractable leash. This gadget features a winding mechanism that allows the owner to roll, stop, or retreat the length of the leash. The biggest downfall of this type of leash is the lack of control. This can create accidents if the dog gains momentum running and the owner is distracted. If your pet reaches the end of the leash at full speed, they risk hurting their throat with the blunt force of the collar pulling. Another inherent risk is the possibility of lacerations, rope burns, and falls.

Considerations before buying a leash

Some of the most important questions you should ask before buying the perfect leash are:

  • How big is your dog?
  • Is your dog a puller?
  • What’s your normal walking route?
  • Are you planning to train off leash?
  • Any health issues that might affect your dog?

The answers to these questions will offer you quality insight to make the right choice.

Popular materials

dog standing on street wearing red chest harness and leash
Erik Mclean/Unsplash

You can divide most leashes into three main groups based on the materials used to make them. Each one has their pro’s and con’s and finding the best one really depends on your individual needs.


  • Most popular
  • Ideal for humid and wet environments
  • Easy to chew and wear out


  • Durable and strong
  • Needs maintenance and care
  • Chew resistant and long lasting


  • Most robust option
  • Ideal for strong big dogs that chew
  • Might be too heavy for medium and small dogs

Additional tips and hacks

  • Have a spare leash in case your main one damages.
  • Use a carabiner hooked to the handle of your leash and attach it to itself.
  • Dry off your leash to make it last longer.
  • Oil your leather leashes to soften the material and keep them flexible.
  • Be prepared to upgrade your leash as your puppy grows.

Your dog’s leash has a special place in your best friend’s heart. For some pets, they are the cue that signals an excursion to the outside world. Most of the time, they patiently wait for you to pick it up in order to unleash their happiness. And at the same time, leashes are one of the most important objects dog parents use to communicate with their dogs. If you want to know more, you can check our guide on how to make a dog harness out of rope.

Editors' Recommendations

Your guide to raising a happy, healthy Shih Tzu dog – find out if this is the perfect breed for you
Shih Tzu dogs: Learn about their physical and social characteristics and more
A white Shih Tzu sits on a porch and looks at the camera

Shih Tzu dogs are as cute as can be — physically and socially. The small, happy pups are loved for their friendly, affectionate personalities. If you’re looking for a small breed pup that's an adaptable dog, it’s worth looking into booking a meet-and-greet with a Shih Tzu.

Still, it’s important to go in with eyes wide open. These small pups have a knack for charming nearly everyone in the room, but they’re not the best breed for every home. Doing your homework and researching several breeds will help you find the best fit for your household. Though every Shih Tzu is unique, consider this guide a good place to start your research.

Read more
Howling dog went viral for sounding like an opera singer — we can’t get enough
This video shows a pup who has mastered the art of music with his perfectly on key howling
A dog lies in the grass and howls at the sky

Many of us think that our dogs talk way beyond the average woofs and barks that we all hear. Some seem to be particularly good at human speech, mimicking our sounds to try to be more like their pet parents. While most beasties never quite make it to speaking to us in our language, others go a step further and decide they will learn to sing too. Singing pups have taken over the internet, and this diva is no different.

If you've ever been to the opera, you know to listen for the tell-tale vibrato, which is really just moving between two pitches very quickly. There's nothing quite like it, and most of us will immediately think of that sound when we listen to this melodious dog.

Read more
50 spring-inspired names for dogs, from Forrest to Petunia
Springtime names for dogs influenced by the season, from Cosmo to April
A black and white Pomeranian sits in front of a tulip field and gives a head tilt

As the snow begins to melt beneath the longer hours of daylight, so many new things are taking form. Flowers are budding, animals are welcoming their young, and everything begins to feel renewed. Springtime is near! It's also an ideal time to welcome a new furry friend into your household. After all, longer days and warmer temperatures will make outdoor activities with your pup much more fun.

If you're planning on adopting a new dog come spring, you'll need to have some good dog names on hand. Of course, you can always opt for one of the classics, but these names for dogs are inspired by one of the most magical times of the year: springtime. These are 50 of our favorites, and we hope you'll love them as much as we do!

Read more