How to Choose the Right Dog Lead: A Comprehensive Guide

Elan Mansur

Introduction: Choosing the right dog lead can make a big difference in the safety, comfort, and overall experience of walking your furry friend. With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. This guide will help you understand the different types of dog leads available and how to choose the one that is perfect for your dog.

Different Types of Dog Leads

Strap or Webbing Leads

Strap leads are the most commonly used dog leads. They come in a variety of materials, such as nylon, leather, and rope. They usually have a clip that attaches to the dog's collar or harness and a looped handle for the owner to hold. These leads are great for everyday use and come in different lengths and widths to suit different dog breeds and sizes.

Rope Leads

Rope leads are similar to strap leads, but rather than webbing, they are made from rope and are therefore thicker and easier to hold than strap leads. Also good for everyday use, rope leads are stronger than strap leads and great for larger and stronger dogs.  

Retractable Leads

Retractable leads have gained popularity in recent years because they allow dogs to roam around more freely while still being connected to their owners. They consist of a long cord that is attached to a plastic handle with a button that allows the cord to retract or extend. These leads are ideal for dogs that like to explore and have more freedom while on walks, but they can be dangerous if not used properly. Its also worth considering that a retractable lead is heavier than other leads, has triggers to release and lock the mechanism, and should be used with care, especially near traffic.

Chain Leads

Chain leads are made of metal and are designed for dogs that tend to chew or destroy their leads. They are also used for dogs that are being trained for obedience or protection work. However, they can be heavy and uncomfortable for the dog if not used correctly.

Slip Leads

Slip leads are made of a rope or nylon cord with a sliding loop that tightens around the dog's neck. They are commonly used for training and handling dogs that pull or are difficult to control. They are not recommended for everyday use as they can cause choking or injury to the dog's neck if not used properly. They are however ideal for activities where your dog needs to frequently be on and off the lead.

Multifunction Training Lead

A training lead can be either webbing or rope, has hooks on both ends, and has either an adjustable length, or has multiple attachment points on the lead. This allows the lead to be made shorter and longer, be used as a tether, be used as a hands-free lead, and to even be used to walk two dogs at once.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog Lead

Size and Strength of Your Dog

The size and strength of your dog are important factors to consider when choosing a dog lead. For larger and stronger breeds, a stronger and thicker lead is necessary to prevent breakage or snapping. For smaller breeds, a lighter lead is sufficient, and a retractable lead may be a good option.

Comfort of Your Dog

The comfort of your dog is crucial when selecting a dog lead. A lead that is too heavy or too tight can cause discomfort and even injury to your dog's neck. A lead that is too long or too short can also affect the comfort of your dog. It is important to consider the material, weight, and size of the lead to ensure your dog is comfortable during walks.

Walking Environment

The environment where you walk your dog also plays a role in selecting the right dog lead. For example, if you walk your dog in a crowded area or along a road, a shorter lead may be more appropriate to keep your dog safely under control. If you walk your dog in a park or open area, a longer lead or retractable lead may be more suitable.

Purpose of Use

The purpose of use for the dog lead is also a factor to consider. If you are training your dog, a slip lead, chain lead, or multifunction training lead may be appropriate. If you are taking your dog for a swim, a waterproof lead may be necessary. If you are taking your dog for a run, a hands-free lead may be more convenient.

Comfort and Personal Preference

The style of the lead and handle on the dog lead directly affects you too. While a lead can be more or less comfortable to use, the lead selected and how you use it will affect your walking posture, and will have different impacts on you, the walker. It is important to ensure you are comfortable, confident, and secure with the lead you select.

Breed-Specific Dog Lead Options

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it is also important to consider the specific needs and characteristics of your dog's breed. Different breeds may have different requirements when it comes to dog leads. Here are some breed-specific dog lead options to consider:


Small Breeds

For small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkies, a lightweight and narrow lead is typically the best option. A retractable lead can also be a good choice for small dogs who like to explore.

Large Breeds

Large breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards require a heavy-duty lead that can withstand their strength. A thick, durable lead made of leather or heavy-duty nylon is usually the best option.

Sporting Breeds

Breeds like Retrievers, Pointers, and Setters are considered sporting breeds and require leads that are suitable for outdoor activities like hunting and fieldwork. A durable lead that is at least six feet long and made of waterproof material is typically the best option.

By considering the specific needs and characteristics of your dog's breed, you can choose a lead that is safe, comfortable, and suitable for your furry friend.

Note that with the exception of the slip lead, a lead is almost never used in isolation. A suitable collar and/or harness needs to be used in conjunction with the lead, and should be carefully selected. We will speak more about collars and harnesses separately.


Choosing the right dog lead may seem like a daunting task, but with careful consideration of the factors mentioned above, you can find the perfect lead for your furry friend. Remember to prioritize safety, comfort, and durability when making your decision. A high-quality dog lead will not only keep your dog safe and secure but also make your walks together more enjoyable.

It's important to remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Don't be afraid to try out different options and adjust as needed until you find the perfect lead for your furry friend. By choosing the right dog lead, you can help ensure that your dog stays safe and happy on all of your walks together.