Skip to main content

How to choose the right type of dog leash for your pup

Time for a walk! Learning how to walk on a leash is oh-so-important for any dog to learn, especially if they’re coming with you to work, on vacation, or to any public place. But when a pup isn’t comfortable on her leash, things aren’t likely to go well. There are several important factors to consider when selecting the perfect leash, but it’s totally okay to try out a few with your dog before making your decision. You want her to be comfy, too, after all!

Whether you’re looking into different materials, lengths, or dog leash types, there’s one out there for you. Once you’re armed with the knowledge of how to find the right leash, it’ll be time to take Fido shopping. Are you ready for your next adventure?

a beige German shepard mix sits on the grass, attached to a leash on their collar
MabelAmber/Pixabay

Types of dog leashes

When leash shopping, it’s important to know the differences between the types of leads you may see. They may look the same at first, but having an appropriate lash can be the difference between security and danger. These are the most common kinds of leashes:

Standard leash

Most leashes are simple 4- to 6-foot-long strips of leather or nylon (more on leash material below) that latch onto a dog’s collar or harness with a clip on one end. The other end has a loop for the owner to hold or wear around their wrist so that the dog is always secure. This type of leash has no bells or whistles but is great for basic walking and training, though there are adjustable standard leashes that work via reattachable extension pieces. These adjustable leashes are safer and generally a better choice than retractable leashes.

Martingale lead

This type of leash is great for dogs who pull, which is why it’s also known as the no-slip leash. When a dog pulls, the martingale lead constricts gently — not enough to choke or hurt your dog since it cannot tighten more than you adjust it to — keeping her safe in her collar. These setups are ideal for breeds like greyhounds who have heads slimmer than their necks.

Chain leash

This type of leash is just like your standard dog leash, except it’s made of metal chain rather than fabric. Chain is ideal for pups who like to chew on their leash, though not all dogs are deterred by the metal alone. Some give up when they learn they can’t chew through it, but others consider it a game. Keep an eye on her teeth if she chews on this leash!

a small beige dog walks on cobblestone, attached to a leash on their collar
StockSnap/Pixabay

Decide what’s important to you

Once you know the lingo, there are a few important factors to consider when leash shopping. Remember that your number-one priority should be the safety of your pet.

Leash material

Most standard dog leashes are made of leather or nylon, though you can find others (cotton, rubber, etc.) as well. Keep in mind these alternative materials are generally not nearly as durable. Nylon and leather are preferred because they’re not heavy enough to harm a puppy, but they’re still strong enough to hold up against a full-grown dog.

Many materials are designed with your pup’s safety in mind, so it never hurts to explore your options. It’s not rare to find reflective materials for nighttime walking or extra-durable varieties for teething puppies.

Leash length and width

Don’t forget to factor in the size and activity level of your pup before purchasing a certain weight of leash. A Chihuahua won’t need as wide a leash as a mastiff would, for example, but a dog who pulls will need extra security, no matter their size.

The length of your dog’s leash will determine how far from you she can wander while out and about. A shorter lead tends to give you more control, which is important for pups who like to pull. At the same time, since shorter leashes give your dog less room to wander, you’ll be making most of her detours with her. The standard leash is 6 feet long, but longer leashes may be useful in certain situations, like training.

Collar and/or fastener

Generally, a standard leash attaches to your dog’s harness or collar with a D-clip on one end. Because the leash is effective only if your dog is securely attached to it, though, a collar may not always be enough. Many dogs learn how to back out of a collar when pulling on the leash, which is why a harness can be so helpful.

When looking at the clip itself, you will see either a “bolt snap” clip, which uses a spring to keep closed until you manually slide it open, or a “trigger snap” clip. This type opens inward using a much larger spring; both of these qualities make it more difficult for the clip to break. Bolt snap clips are still very reliable and are the most common clip you’ll see.

Whichever type, length, and material of leash fit best for your pup’s lifestyle, don’t think for a minute that you won’t find something perfect. When in doubt, ask the knowledgeable folks at your local pet store or vet for suggestions. Leash training, like any new habit, takes time to get used to, but you’ll have the best-behaved walking buddy before you know it!

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Does your dog drink a lot of water? Here’s when you should be concerned
It's usually just the weather, but you should look for signs of dehydration or excess thirst
A pug drinking water from a sink faucet

Ensuring your furry best friend gets plenty of water is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent. But how much water should your dog drink on a daily basis? Veterinarians claim the general rule of thumb is a simple equation: The majority of dogs require around 1/2 to 1 ounce (about 1/8 of a cup) of water per pound of body weight each day. Don't want to reach for your measuring cup? Make sure your pup has round-the-clock access to clean water, and everything should be fine.

That being said, if your dog empties their water bowl several times a day, or you notice their intake has increased drastically, you should probably keep a close eye on things. If your dog drinks a lot of water, you may be wondering, "Why is my dog always thirsty?" We'll share how to monitor your pup's water intake, the most common reasons your dog may be thirsty, and when you should speak with your vet.

Read more
Are Himalayan dog chews safe for your pet? Know this before you buy
These dogs treats are still trendy but should probably be eaten in moderation
A close-up shot of a pug standing in the grass with a bone-shaped treat in his mouth

What do blueberries, kale, and broccoli all have in common? In addition to being delicious, all three are part of the group of so-called superfoods. Unfortunately, there's no federally regulated definition for the term, but Harvard scientists claim food that "offers high levels of desirable nutrients, is linked to the prevention of a disease, or is believed to offer several simultaneous health benefits beyond its nutritional value" can be labeled superfoods. 

Just like you might add chia seeds to your granola or spirulina powder to your smoothies for additional vitamins and minerals, you also want to make sure your dog's food and treats pack a beneficial wallop. Made famous on Shark Tank, Himalayan dog chews have become one of the most hotly debated treats in the pet food game, which begs the question, "Are Himalayan dog chews as healthy as some people think?"

Read more
Can dogs eat mango? Read this first
Find out if this tropical fruit is safe for your pup
A dog in the kitchen looking up at woman drinking coffee

As humans, we love to share with our dogs. Perhaps your pet snuggles up to you in bed, sharing — or stealing — your blankets. Sharing experiences, like holiday activities, can also be a fun way to bond.

Food can get dicier, though. Some human-favorite items, like chocolate, are toxic for dogs. Others make fine (and even healthy) treats. If mango is your favorite fruit, you might want to slip your pet some. Also, your dog might always be around the fruit and sneak some off your plate. Can dogs eat mango safely? Generally, the answer to this question is yes, but there are some caveats. Also, correctly serving a mango is critical. Before throwing your dog a piece of this sweet fruit, here's what to know.

Read more