Best Retractable Dog Leash for Every Dog Size

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Standard dog leashes are outdated.

We get the idea, but what most people don’t know is that your dog can actually really hurt themselves on a regular leash, even if you’re a kind and responsible owner.

Some dogs are just super independent and strong, and they’ll run until they hurt themselves, which is just bad for so many reasons. You love your pup, you want them to be in good health and not in pain, so you’re here to get the best retractable dog leash.

There’s no magic here, there’s just more control for you. The ball is in your court. If your dog is in a safe area (large park, side of a road that isn’t busy, etc.), you can let some slack go and move with them so they don’t choke themselves.

Otherwise, you can make the leash shorter if you’re in a compact area or on some narrow and dodgy sidewalks depending on where you walk your dog. Retractables are the better option, let’s look at the best of the best.

Flexi Comfort Retractable Tape Dog Leash

Flexi Comfort Retractable Tape Dog Leash

Flexi Comfort took the top spot on our list, not just because it’s aesthetic and durable, but because this is a chew proof retractable dog leash.

The biggest issue among all retractable dog leashes is that pups will turn around, chew on the tape, and then destroy the thing in under three months.

With this design, Flexi Comfort makes sure that won’t happen. The nylon leash holds together extremely well, outliving your dog’s desire to chew on the leash and break it. While that’s a key point, it’s not the only thing that this has to offer.

The entire handle runs nice and smooth; the tape won’t get caught up or snagged along the way. That helps when you’re trying to get out the door and start the walk before it rains, or before your dog flies headfirst into the door because they’re so excited to go. Every second counts.

While it’s not included in this kit, there’s also a Flexi brand leash LED lighting system that you can use when you’re walking your dog at night. If you don’t get home until late after work, this could come in handy, or for those early morning walks.

One-handed breaking makes this easy to use at all stages. If you’re looking at your phone with your other hand, or you’re carrying something back from the store, then you can pump the brakes if your dog is getting a little out-of-hand.

Last but not least, the handle is made out of durable ABS plastic.

While plastic pieces like these have seams, they’re mostly edgeless – you’re not going to feel them buckle at the seams when they undergo a lot of stress. From the brake system to the harness and everything in between, this is going to last.

Length: 26 feet long

Leash Material: Nylon

Casing Material: ABS plastic

Weight: 1 lb

Dog Weight Supported: Up to 100 lbs

ThunderLeash Retractable Dog Leash

ThunderLeash Retractable Dog Leash

While ThunderLeash is a bit pricier than Flexi Comfort, it comes with a thicker nylon tape, which is basically the main draw to it. If your dog is really rambunctious and you’re afraid they could snap the leash or chew through it, ThunderLeash has your back.

This retractable dog leash heavy duty features include a fifteen foot leash, which gives plenty of slack when you want it, but allows you to pull your dog close on tight sidewalks.

Fifteen feet is enough that you can let them roam just free enough at the dog park, but still keep them on a leash to comply with local laws or regulations for the park.

The handle feels sturdy, but keep in mind the anchor points right behind the brakes and at the bottom feel a wee bit thin. Thankfully, this won’t be a problem since this is just designed for smaller dogs.

If you have a bigger pup, you might run into some problems.

The primary sizes available are extra small and small, and while there is a medium size available as well, ThunderLeash generally services puppies and smaller breeds of dogs. You’re not going to find large or extra large here, and I’d chock that up to the handle design.

The brake button works well, stopping your dog from pulling too much of the tape out of the handle in a single motion. It does stop short, so be gentle when you press on the button.

There is a safety booklet included with your purchase, which turns out can be pretty helpful if you’re new to owning a dog.

Some information on using the leash, as well as safety precautions help you to better handle your dog so that you can be sure you aren’t hurting them. It might be useless to veteran owners, but it’s great if you’re new to the game.

Length: 15 feet long

Leash Material: Nylon

Casing Material: ABS plastic

Weight: 1 lb

Dog Weight Supported: 45 lbs up to 100 lbs

Ruff ‘n Ruffus Retractable Dog Leash

Heavy duty is the name of the game, and with Ruff ‘n Ruffus, that’s exactly what you’re getting.

As one of the strongest retractable dog leash models on the market, this comes with a durable handle that doesn’t buckle under the stress from any dog, provided that you get the right size for your dog.

You get a total of sixteen feet of length in this nylon ribbon leash. If you’ve ever purchased cheap retractables before, then you know that the edges of the nylon ribbon look frayed to hell and back and just don’t feel like they’re going to hold up.

Ruff ‘n Ruffus apparently noticed, too, because they’re made one of the sleekest, smoothest tapes that we’ve ever seen. It’s brilliant.

It’s a solid leash with a powerful brake button, but that’s not all you get. This is a whole kit that comes in handy for so many different scenarios.

First and foremost, there’s a small bone-shaped attachment for your handle that stores a few waste bags. Now, you don’t have to reach into your pocket for new ones and accidentally pull your phone out, dropping it on the sidewalk.

Next, you have a bright LED clip-on light. This works well if you also have reflective strips on a harness or something along those lines, so that passers-by can spot you on early morning walks and be cautious if they’re driving. It’s a nice little add-on.

Last is a collapsible bowl that comes with a carabiner on the outside.

You can collapse it and attach it to your belt, then when you’re at the midway point in your walk, pop it open and give Fido something to drink on those hot days. It’s less messy than pouring water from your bottle into their mouths, and they get more water out of it as well.

Apart from these add-ons, the leash itself is stupendous, and the entire system is just a major money-saver. Ruff ‘n Ruffus is one of the best-rated retractables online for a reason.

Length: 16 feet long

Leash Material: Nylon ribbon

Casing Material: ABS plastic

Weight: 1 lb

Dog Weight Supported: Up to 110 lbs

PETKIT Retractable Dog Leash w/ USB Recharging System

PETKIT Retractable Dog Leash, USB Rechargeable with RGB LED Light System 14.7ft Pet Leash for Small Dogs up to 66 lbs, One Button Brake & Lock Tangle-Free & Sturdy Dog Leash with Comfortable Grip

Need something a bit extra? Is your dog a bit extra?

This retractable leash is extremely popular amongst those who walk their dogs early in the morning or late at night. If you find that your schedule conflicts with walking your dog and you’re out during the dark, this is what you need.

This is one of the only retractable leashes for large dogs that also has a built-in LED ring to help light up the night. It serves as a small beacon to let motorists and even early morning cyclists know where you are and to steer clear.

Apart from that little add-on, the leash itself functions beautifully. I want to center some spotlight on the soft touch grip of the handle, because it completely changes how you use retractables. It’s excellent for retaining your grip the entire time while using your leash.

The brake button works well, it just doesn’t stop super short, so you have to ease down on it and expect one or two feet of slack to come out before a stop is achieved, especially if your dog starts running off. It’s good, just a gradual braking system.

Speaking of the leash itself, you get 9.8 feet of leash length in total, which is more than enough for taking your pup on walks.

Anything over nine feet is sufficient for most activities, you only need a longer leash of fifteen feet or more if you’re going to dog parks that still require your pup to be on a leash.

From the anti-slip handle to the max weight of 66 lbs, this comes with all the stops for your doggo. The latch design is nice and heavy, so it securely attaches to the D-ring on your pup’s harness or their collar with ease.

Length: 9.8 feet long

Leash Material: Nylon tape

Casing Material: ABS plastic, TPE

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Dog Weight Supported: Max 66 lbs

WIGZI EZ On and Off Retractable Leash

Wigzi Gel Handle Reflective Tape Retractable Leash Black Large

We’re at the end, but we saved one of the best for last.

WIGZI has this EZ on and off retractable leash for those difficult pups that just don’t want to stay still. On a total of sixteen feet of nylon ribbon leash, you have so much room to let your dog wander, you just get to control how far they wander.

Use that lock to keep the retraction at the length you decide. This means you don’t have to press down on the brake button for the entire duration of your dog pulling. You push, flip the lock into place, and now they can’t get any more slack out of it.

With this system, you also have the power to hold onto your dog and keep them secure even if they’re up to 110 lbs—which is a lot of power for any leash, but especially a retractable.

Every piece of metal on this is rust-proof, so even if you run into a rainstorm in the middle of your morning stroll with your pup, you don’t have to worry about it rusting out the latch or the actual leash itself.

Your handle is gel-filled, which sounds like it would be a problem, but it’s built to be leakproof in every facet. It feels soft to the touch, but it’s also tactile enough that you’re not going to slip while you’re walking your dog and they suddenly (and forcefully) pull on that leash.

In all our retractable dog leash reviews, we haven’t seen one as simply designed as WIGZI, but sometimes simple works best depending on your needs.

From the price down to the length and everything in between, WIGZI is a solid choice if nothing else on this list jumped out at you right away.

Length: 16 feet long

Leash Material: Nylon

Casing Material: ABS plastic, gel padded handle

Weight: 1 lb

Dog Weight Supported: Up to 110 lbs

Retractable Dog Leash Buying Guide & FAQ

Are Retractable Leashes Bad?

walking with retractable leash

Inherently, no they are not. Do they have negative attributes?

Of course they do – everything does. Anyone who tells you that retractables are a perfect solution is lying.

Whether you have the longest retractable dog leash or a short 6.8 foot version, they have their uses, but they also have their drawbacks.

The biggest concern is how thin the nylon is on a retractable leash, which is the source of many concerns and some issues. Normal leashes are thick like a handful of rope, but the thinner nylon has a sharp edge to it.

Retractable leashes, in our opinion, require a more attentive owner to get proper use out of them. You don’t want to accidentally negatively impact your dog because they have too much freedom and lose respect for the leash, but you also want to give them additional space to explore. It’s a balancing act.

What are the Pros and Cons of Retractable Leashes?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Retractable Leashes?

There are a few to consider. Retractable leashes aren’t an omnipotent object; they’re not 100% perfect, which is why you should know both sides before you finalize your decision.

Pro – Exploration

Your dog wants to explore the worlds round them (and perhaps claim some territory, depending on their mood). Why should we limit that?

With a six-foot nylon leash that most people use, you only have so much distance between you and your pup for walking, but on top of that, they only have a little bit of leeway to actually explore the world around them. That doesn’t exactly seem fair.

A retractable leash allows you to assess a situation and your surroundings, and give more slack when it’s appropriate. If your dog is near people or other dogs that they might not be so friendly with, keep less slack. At the park? Let ‘em run wild on their fifteen-foot leash and have a good time.

Con – Vet Visits

Just like children, dogs don’t want to get shots. In fact, it might be the one thing in their lives that they hate more than everything else. If you have a larger dog that’s rambunctious and wary, getting a shot at the vet’s office is going to be a hassle, to say the least.

Retractable leashes have thin ribbon-like designs, and if you have your leash on your dog at the vet (which is usually recommended), this retractable leash could actually hurt them.

If they thrash around and this gets tied around their leg in the panic, it could cause cuts or rope burn to their legs. While it’s a low risk, strangulation is also a concern among many vets when owners use retractable leashes for their dogs during visits.

Pro – Keeping Up

Sometimes it’s a downright chore to keep up with your speedy pup on a walk. There’s things to sniff, places to walk around, and they don’t want to wait for you. Well, now they don’t have to.

All you have to do is let them have some more slack, and while they’re inspecting their environment, you continue at your even pace. This means no more tugging on your hand to go four feet over into the grass beside the spot you’re walking. Let them have slack, then let them run wild.

Con – Forgetfulness

Your dog is walking at an even pace. You’re on your phone or trying to do something. You leave the lock open so that you don’t have to keep messing with it during the entire walk. Then, your dog runs at full sprint for some reason, pulling on all that slack.

They could go into traffic, they could hurt another dog, or hurt themselves. It’s surprisingly easy to forget to keep the lock on once you’ve used your retractable leash for a while.

Pro – Rescue Retraining

If you’re like many of us, you got your dog from a rescue to make sure one more huggable four-legged friend in this world didn’t feel alone.

The problem here is that an older dog will have already passed crucial years where they should have been properly trained, and many of these dogs just aren’t trained the right way at all. Using a retractable leash is great for retraining and keeping dogs at a safe distance when on sidewalks and cramped streets.

With a standard leash, you have to punch it up in your hands, which takes away from traction and your grip on the leash itself.

Can You Use a Retractable Leash With a Harness?

Yes, you absolutely can. Since most harnesses have a D-ring on the back, you can connect a retractable leash and enjoy the same benefits as if the leash were on a collar around their neck.

But there are some caveats. If the D-ring attachment is in the front, you don’t want that nylon ribbon aggravating your dog’s neck when it comes around the side of them.

That, and there’s a small training issue with retractable leashes in general, but more so when you use it with a harness. Dogs can easily get in the mindset of “If I pull more, I will be rewarded with additional leash.”

That’s why retractables require an owner who pays attention during the entire walk to work properly.

If you aren’t vigorously vigilant, then your dog could get in a bad habit of pulling on the leash when they want a reward. Then we, as dog owners, assume an obedience problem, and it just grows into another issue entirely.

How to Get Your Dog Used to the Retractable Leash?

You just have to hit the ground running. Use the retractable leash day in and day out.

Gently, you have to remind them that just because they are on a retractable leash, they do not have the right to move wherever they want. It’s at your discretion.

The point of a retractable leash is to give slack when they want to explore, but keep them close on sidewalks and tight-knit corners. But your dog doesn’t know the difference.

They have to know that you are controlling the length of the leash, not them. You don’t want them pulling to get more slack. In areas like dog parks where they can roam, lean down and give them a rub on the head, then pull slack out of the handle and show it to them.

Tell them that they can move around, and let them know when you go to leave that they have less slack in the same fashion. It takes time to be effective, but it’s the most comprehensive way to do it.

Retractable is the Best Leash Option You Have

For safety and control, retractable leashes are just the very best option that you can get. We’ve shown you the cream of the crop, discussed the materials you can expect, and given you some tips and tricks on getting your dog used to using a retractable leash.

All that’s left for you to do is put it into action, and give your dog a better option for every single walk for the rest of their lives.

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