What are the Different Kinds of Dog Leashes?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne
Some dog leashes are made of woven nylon.
Some dog leashes are made of woven nylon.

Dog leashes come in a wide variety of materials, lengths and styles to suit every dog owner and purpose. Some dog leashes are retractable, some are designed to walk two dogs at once, and some are made very short to keep the dog close to the owner. The type of leash that is best will depend largely upon the size of the dog, its personality, and the area in which you will be walking.

The strongest dog leashes are chain leashes which will hold up best if the dog is a chewer. Chain dog leashes come in different gauges from smaller chain links to larger, heavier chain. The handles of these dog leashes are made from leather.

Leashes typically attach to a collar.
Leashes typically attach to a collar.

Woven nylon dog leashes are also very strong, but if your dog has a tendency to bite at the leash while walking, it won’t hold up over time as well as a chain leash. These dog leashes come in many widths and colors and some have patterns or logos woven into the material.

Leads are especially short dog leashes of about 14 inches (35 cm)— meant to keep the dog close. Leads are often used when walking large dogs through crowded public places. Leads are also used with aggressive dogs. Some dog leashes combine the lead and leash into one. The lead portion is connected to a longer leash, making this a handy choice for walks that go from high traffic areas, to rural park areas and back.

Retractable leashes are usually best for smaller dogs.
Retractable leashes are usually best for smaller dogs.

A retractable dog leash is housed in a small, plastic casing designed for easy handheld manipulation. A trigger or button releases the leash, allowing it to uncoil up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) or more. Another press of the trigger will retract the leash. Retractable dog leashes are better suited to smaller breeds or well-behaved larger dogs.

An alternate kind of dog leash is made from stretchable nylon, allowing the dog to explore a little without tugging the owner along. These dog leashes expand from about five feet in length (1.5 meters) to approximately ten feet (3 meters).

If you will be walking two dogs at once, holding two leashes can be awkward at best. One solution is to get a leash made to walk two dogs. A single leash leads to a steel ring to which two separate leashes are attached, forming a Y. These dog leashes keep canine buddies from criss-crossing one another, or running ahead and behind each another.

If you already have a nice leash to serve as the stem of the Y, you can get a coupler to walk two dogs. A coupler is a steel ring with two leads attached. Simply connect your existing leash to the steel ring coupler and you’re on your way. If you are a professional dog walker you might consider more than one coupler, bearing in mind that couplers work best with dogs of roughly equal size and fitness.

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Discussion Comments


Another thing I would note about these types of leashes, however, is that they really vary in quality. I have bought really cheap retractable leashes, and the plastic housing always falls apart pretty soon after I buy them. Also, they do have problems with jamming and tearing. After buying a couple of cheaper leashes, I bought a more expensive retractable leash and it works much better. I have had that one for almost a year now, and it doesn’t have any of the problems that the others did.

I think especially for people looking for a large dog leash, buying a leash that is a bit more expensive will save a lot of money in the long run. They are usually not that much more costly, and they are of a much higher quality than the cheap leashes.


I have had really great experiences with retractable leashes. I think they are one of the best types of leashes available for dog owners. They work really well in dog leash training and recreation. In my experience, they have been especially helpful in big cities and those with both rural and urban areas. Since I live in a city that is very dog-friendly, I can walk my dog both on the streets and in parks and recreational areas. The retractable leashes I’ve used have been particularly great in this type of environment, as I can extend the leash in more rural areas and pull my dog in when I am walking around the city.

They also seem to work really well for both small and big dogs. For the big dog, they allow me to have enough power over him but also allow him to explore. Plus, when other dogs are around I can quickly reel him in and avoid any confrontation.

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    • Some dog leashes are made of woven nylon.
      By: Volodymyr Shevchuk
      Some dog leashes are made of woven nylon.
    • Leashes typically attach to a collar.
      By: Alexey Stiop
      Leashes typically attach to a collar.
    • Retractable leashes are usually best for smaller dogs.
      By: Patryk Kosmider
      Retractable leashes are usually best for smaller dogs.