The Best Retractable Dog Leashes

Dog owners know that they must have a leash for their dogs practically anywhere they take them. While traditional rope leases are reliable and easy to come by, they are lacking in many areas. Retractable dog leashes offer far more in terms of benefits, ease of use, and functionality. That is why many dog owners are turning to retractable dog leashes for their dog walking needs.

Our vet advisor, Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM, reviewed dozens of retractable dog leashes to identify the best of the best. To find the best leashes, she looked at their length, cost, construction, and extra features that made them safer and more durable. The Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash includes the best of each of these criteria with an additional safety feature of visibility.  Read how she chose the top 5.

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash

For the best in retractable dog leashes, look no further than the Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash.

Don’t skip the idea of your comfort, either. You’ll note the right handle with an ergonomic design helps you fight fatigue and possible injuries so that you can continue walking your dog for a long time.

Our Vet’s Top 5 Retractable Dog Leashes

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.

Vet’s PicksModelRatingTape or RopeBrake ButtonWeight Limit
Best OverallFlexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash4.3Tape110 lbs
Best Budget BuyFlexi Classic Nylon Cord Retractable Dog Leash4.3Rope44 lbs
Best Heavy DutyTUG 360° Tangle-Free, Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash4.6Tape110 lbs
Best or HikingAlcott Kong Retractable Terrain4.6Tape110 lbs
Best XLFlexi Giant Nylon Tape Retractable Dog Leash4.7Tape110 lbs

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Retractable Dog Leash

  • Leash training – Retractable leashes are a good idea for anyone that needs to train a dog to go on walks with you. You can use it to train your dog to walk with you by shortening it, and the struggle to maintain a good pace while teaching your dog to heel is greatly lessened.
  • Spreading out – In many cases, a retractable leash gives your dog more flexibility and control of where he or she is walking. Since leashes can make dogs feel constricted, it is nice to be able to give them the opportunity to spread out while still being under control.
  • Curious pups – If your dog is prone to sudden jerking with curiosity or excitement, then you’ll benefit from the buffer to your hands a retractable leash provides. It absorbs some of the impact so that you don’t hurt your hand if your dog is pulling too hard.

Who Should Not Buy a Retractable Dog Leash

  • Extra-large dogs – Each leash has a weight limit that must not be exceeded. Otherwise, the leash could break under the pressure applied by a larger or stronger dog. Though most dogs will be manageable with a retractable leash, some of the XL dog breeds may not.
  • Children walking – If you have a dog that’s primarily a child’s pet, then you may want to consider the risk of “rope burns” and pinching, should the rope be managed improperly – and just how much the damage can do to little hands.

Research Tips (From a Veterinarian)

When purchasing a retractable dog leash, you will want to find a product that is both durable and reliable. Retractable leashes need to be used carefully and come with risks! I have witnessed injuries to both the pet and the pet owner as a result of using retractable leashes—especially poor quality retractable leashes. It is important to purchase only the best quality leash and follow all the safety instructions that are provided with the leash. Here are some important features to consider when purchasing a retractable dog leash.

  1. Consider leash length – I often recommend a shorter leash length. The longer the leash length, the more opportunity you and your pet will have for getting injured. A longer leash has more opportunities to become tangled or wrapped around a leg, arm, or finger causing severe injuries.
  2. Look for a durable leash – The more durable the better. Retractable dog leashes that are not durable may snap and break. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to your dog running away or getting hit by a car.
  3. Find the correct weight limit – Pay close attention to the weight limit of each leash. I do not recommend getting a retractable leash for a dog that is very strong or tugs on the leash. Strong dogs will easily break a retractable leash.
  4. A locking system may be beneficial – Look for a retractable leash with a sturdy and reliable locking system. You will want to be able to lock the leash if you are walking near other dogs or people.
  5. Handle comfort – The best retractable dog leashes have an ergonomic comfortable handle. You want a leash that feels comfortable in your hand especially if you are taking your dog for a long walk.
  6. Reflective material – A leash that is made with reflective material can be beneficial for improved visibility. You want your dog leash to be easily spotted especially at night. This will decrease the risk of your dog becoming injured.
  7. Accessories – Some retractable dog leashes come with accessories such as a waste bag pouch. A waste bag pound or other accessories that come with the leash can be very handy.

How Much Do They Cost?

Between $15-$50

For a normal leash that’s strictly a rope and clip, you can certainly get away with minimal cost – in fact, you can probably find one at your local dollar store. However, remember that with leashes, particularly retractable leashes, you get what you pay for. You’ll spend more or the more you get and depending on the weight and length, you can budget to spend somewhere between $20 and $50. If you’re interested in a leash for a bigger dog, then expect to spend more, and a smaller dog,

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet Life Today

As an experienced small animal veterinarian and dog owner, I have extensive experience with retractable dog leashes. The leashes chosen here are all quality products from reliable brands with excellent reviews. First and foremost, I chose these products keeping durability and safety in mind. A poor-quality retractable dog leash can be extremely dangerous for you and your dog, so I only chose products that I believed would be safe and effective. Finally, these products were selected based on their locking systems, comfort, and additional accessories. – Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

The Best Retractable Dog Leashes: Full Reviews

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash

For the best in retractable dog leashes, look no further than the Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash.

The Flexi Neon Nylon Tape Reflective Retractable Dog Leash has an easy-to-use stop and locking brake system that won’t have you or your dog jerking and stumbling when you engage. You’ll only need the force of a single thumb to stop your dog who weighs all the way up to 110 pounds.

The ergonomic handle features a partial rubber grip to make use more comfortable for you and should you wish to, you can upgrade this leash with the purchase of coordinating accessories like the multi-box, to store bags or treats. The big selling point on this retractable leash, though, is the superior visibility – not only does it have a bright neon-colored lead, but it also has reflective stickers along the side of the handle.

Pros
  • Easy-to-see, reflective color
  • Smooth stop brake
  • Very little drag on lead
Cons
  • Frays over time
  • Occasionally faulty lead connection
Best Budget Buy

Flexi New Classic Retractable Dog Leash

The Flexi New Classic Retractable Dog Leash is a budget pick that doesn’t skimp on useful features..

The Flexi New Classic Retractable Dog Leash combines the features that you need in a retractable lease with features that make it more enjoyable to use. The German-made leash provides all of the features you could hope for in a retractable dog leash. The one pictured is designed for medium-sized dogs and extends a total of 26 feet. However, if the black color or length doesn’t suit your needs, Flexi offers a range of other lengths and colors to choose from.

The best feature of the Flexi New Classic Retractable Dog Leash is its simple and sleek design. It features a one-handed braking system and an ergonomic grip handle. Considering how well made it is and the fact that it’s only just over $20, the Flexi New Classic Retractable Dog Leash is definitely a must-buy in our books!

Pros
  • Extends up to 26-feet
  • Designed for medium-sized dogs
  • Ergonomic grip handle
Cons
  • Rope design less safe
  • 44 lb weight limit
Best Heavy Duty

TUG Patented 360° Tangle-Free, Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash

Control your dog easily with the TUG Patented 360° Tangle-Free, Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash.

The TUG Patented 360° Tangle-Free, Heavy Duty Retractable Dog Leash is our durable pick. While it didn’t make it to the top spot, it is a great option for controlling your pet on a walk. It uses the same kind of nylon tape leash design as the other leading options. The buckle is chrome plated so that it is weather-resistant, and it is attached using a thick reinforced attachment clip.

The TUG’s brighter color makes it easy to find, but that is not the only thing that makes it stand out. It uses a patented 360-degree tangle-free design, which keeps the leash from binding or snagging. The key is in the opening where the leash leaves the handle. It is designed in a way to give it almost complete rotation without problems.

Pros
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Easy-access brake control
  • Durable nylon tape ribbon
Cons
  • Slightly difficult to lock
  • Bulky
Best for Hiking

Alcott Kong Retractable Terrain

For the best in GPS dog trackers, look no further than the Whistle GO Explore.

The Alcott Kong Retractable Terrain is perfect for use on the trail, with its rugged design that will keep your pup where you need him to be, all the way up to 110 pounds. You’ll have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from, so you’ll be able to get the exact leash that fits both you and your pup.

It has a soft handle to make the ergonomic grip all the more comfortable for extended use, and for frequent walkers and runners, that’s a big perk. The tape leash and stop braking system will keep you and your pup safe and that very likely adds up to more frequent use, too.

Pros
  • 2-year guarantee
  • Tape leash
  • Lock and brake system
Cons
  • Occasionally faulty lead connection
  • Frays over time
Best Extra-Long

Flexi Giant Tape Leash

Give your dog some extra running room with the Flexi Giant Tape Leash.

The Flexi Giant Tape Leash is our top extra-long retractable dog leash pick. It has an extra-long, 26-foot leash that gives your dog ample space to run around while still being tethered. This leash features a different handle design than many other leashes. The leash comes out of the top of the handle rather than the front opposite your hand. This gives it a wider range of motion letting it spin nearly all the way around the top of the lease and reducing its ability to tangle around itself.

One of the best features of the Flexi Giant Tape Leash is that it uses a tape leash. Traditional retractable leashes use a rounded rope, which is prone to tangling and twisting. A tape leash uses a flat tape instead of a rope. Most of the time they are made out of nylon, which is non-binding and highly durable. Combined with the different handle design, it is very unlikely that you will find this leash getting tangled on itself.

Pros
  • Highly visible tape leash
  • 360-degree leash rotation design
  • Extra-long 26-foot leash
Cons
  • Can mold if retracted wet
  • Frays over time

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a retractable dog leash and how does it work?

A retractable dog leash is a long dog leash that is wound onto a spool inside a plastic handle casing. When your dog pulls on it, the leash unspools and extends. That way, the length of the leash is adjustable to your needs. You can also limit the length of the leash using the built-in controls. When your dog comes close to you, the leash retracts back into the casing to make itself shorter. In essence, it is a self-adjusting leash that lets you control and change its length if you need to.

Are retractable dog leashes dangerous?

Yes, but not inherently. Like traditional leashes, retractable leashes can be dangerous if they wrap around you or your dog. 1This presents a choking hazard that can be easily avoided with proper safety actions. However, retractable leashes present an additional hazard as they are self-adjusting when not licked into a specific length. That means that they can tighten around limbs on their own and can present a danger if your dog tries to pull while it is wrapped around you. It is possible to avoid these dangers with the same care that you would give to using a traditional leash. Plus, the self-adjusting system makes these leashes far less likely to wrap around you or your dog when used properly.

How long is a retractable dog leash?

The length of each leash depends on its design and is always adjustable up to a maximum length. The length often depends on the dog that it is meant for. For example, six to eight-foot leashes are often reserved for small dogs, while eight to 16-foot leashes are often reserved for small and medium dogs. Anything longer than 16 feet (generally up to 26 feet) is meant for large dogs. However, you can use any leash with any size dog as long as that dog does not exceed the maximum weight limit.

Are retractable leashes good for puppies?

Retractable leashes are good for puppies since you can use them as a training tool. You can give puppies more freedom in grassy areas, and then retract it so that they walk next to you when it is time to walk. When used effectively,2 they make a great training tool, especially for dogs that like to run around a lot and need constant control and supervision.
  1. Forrester MB. Dog leash-related injuries treated at emergency departments. Am J Emerg Med. 2020;38(9):1782-1786. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2020.05.082
  2. Hunter A, Blake S, De Godoy RF. Pressure and force on the canine neck when exercised using a collar and leash. Vet Anim Sci. 2019;8:100082. Published 2019 Oct 24. doi:10.1016/j.vas.2019.100082