Reviews You Can Rely On

The 5 Best Dog Leashes

We tested dog leashes from Max and Neo, Ruffwear, Petsafe, and others to find the best tether for your furry friend
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Best Dog Leash Review (During testing, we went on a ton of walks to learn about these products' performance. Indy, our lead test canine...)
During testing, we went on a ton of walks to learn about these products' performance. Indy, our lead test canine, loved it.
Credit: Sarah Sherman

Our Top Picks

By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2023

To sort out the leaders of the pack, we considered 25 of the top-ranked leashes before buying and testing 10 of the best dog leashes, bringing you an in-depth look at each leash. Each dog has different needs, and each dog-parent relationship is different, so we enlisted ten dogs and their humans to help assess these models. Whether you're looking for a leash to train, run, walk, or bike with your pup, we're here to help match you with the right leash for your purposes, price, and needs. After countless walks, hours of testing, and many different dog and human opinions, we've created a helpful guide to help you choose.

You may also want to consider our recommendations for the top-rated dog collars or the best dog harness. Your pet deserves only the best, which is why we have tested numerous pet products, covering all sorts of goods for your furry friends including the best dog beds, top dog toys, best dog frisbees, and more.

Editor's Note: We updated our dog leash review on June 22, 2023 to update some list pricing for some products in our lineup.

The Best Dog Leashes


Best Overall Dog Leash

Max and Neo Triple Handle

Length tested: 6 ft | Material: Nylon
Three handles for adjustable control
Comfortable grip
Accessory attachment ring

The Max and Neo Triple Handle wins the gold medal, hands down. Its three neoprene-lined handles give you multiple options for easy control over your dog while providing a comfortable grip. We found the middle handle unique to this leash and favored its placement to that of the handle closest to the dog, which was hard to reach without reining your dog in close (though useful in tight situations). The leash has reflective stitching to keep you and your dog visible to passing cars during evening walks, and a handy metal ring at the top of the leash to attach small accessories like poop bags. Finally, this model stood up well in our durability testing, showing minimal fraying when rubbed against a knife, no distress when firmly tugged on, and remaining functional after dragging.

Due to the triple handle design and neoprene handle lining, it is important to note that this Max and Neo model is heavier in hand than other dog leashes we tested. Athough this is not a deterrent for our testers, folks with small dogs or those seeking a lightweight and packable leash may find this one too bulky. Medium to large-sized dogs will benefit most from this leash, especially if they are strong pullers. Overall, the Max and Neo should be considered by owners who don't mind the added weight and bulk of additional handles, as it provides excellent control and comfort during walks.

dog leash - the max and neo leash performed well both on the streets and on the...
The Max and Neo leash performed well both on the streets and on the trail.
Credit: David Wise


Best Overall Bungee Dog Leash

Ruffwear Roamer

Length tested: 7.3 ft + 3.75 ft of stretch | Material: Stretch webbing bungee
Adjustable handle
Lots of elastic stretch
Dual handles
Sturdy and well made
Less control

If you and your pup are always seeking adventure, the versatile Ruffwear Roamer may be for you. The Roamer features a sturdy clasp, two handles, a bungee middle, and an adjustable buckled handle that can also be put comfortably around one's waist or be used to secure your dog as needed. Because of these features, we found ourselves reaching for this leash when headed to meet up with friends, go for a bike ride or a run, or take a stroll down the beach. The bungee was especially useful in situations where testers and their dogs moved quickly, like biking. This leash's extra stretch (almost four feet) was much appreciated when the dog abruptly pulled in a different direction, which prevented sudden jerking movements that could be downright dangerous on a bike. One of our pairs of testers has even used it for skijoring in the winter. Additionally, the Roamer is easy to stuff into a pack because it weighs less and is less bulky than other elastic leashes we've tested.

However, testers noted that this same elasticity meant that they had less control over their dog in situations where slack needed to be taken out of the leash quickly. Unless the walker can reach down and grab the handle right above the clasp attached to the dog, it is hard to make quick adjustments to your dog's direction or action. Because of this, we recommend the Ruffwear Roamer Leash for those looking for a practical leash for many outings and activities where tight, constant control over your pup's roaming is not necessary.

dog leash - we enjoyed using the adjustable handle as a waist strap, too.
We enjoyed using the adjustable handle as a waist strap, too.
Credit: Penney Garrett


Best Bang for Your Buck

PetSafe Nylon Leash

Length tested: 6 ft | Material: Nylon
Easy to use
Low price

The PetSafe Nylon Leash is the most basic leash we tested, in a good way. Simple, durable, and functional, this flat leash is excellent for those leash training a puppy or other situations where control is of the essence. Available for a reasonable price point, both the clasp and nylon held up very well during our durability test. It also comes in a variety of colors to match your preference.

There's nothing wrong with this featureless model, but if you appreciate bells and whistles, then this may not be the leash for you. It doesn't have multiple handles to choke up on the leash for increased control, and you'll have to carry your own bottle opener because this one doesn't have it. It is fundamental in its design, meant for easy function. However, the affordable PetSafe Nylon Leash is calling your name if you are looking for a simple leash that gets the job done without any fuss.

dog leash - indy happily trotting along under the simple guidance of the petsafe...
Indy happily trotting along under the simple guidance of the PetSafe leash.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Best Retractable Leash

Fida Heavy Duty Retractable Leash

Length tested: 16 feet | Material: Nylon tape
May twist
No additional features

Retractable leashes are a handy tool for those who prefer to give their dog the freedom to roam during a walk. The Fida Heavy Duty Retractable Leash did just that during our testing while remaining lightweight, comfortable to hold, and featuring reflective banding for additional safety on evening walks. We found the leash's flat nylon tape to be very smooth when extending or retracting, and it held up well after being dropped and tugged. The pause and lock mechanisms worked efficiently without fail by pushing the button forward and down. We also appreciated that it came in multiple yet simple color options.

The downsides of this leash are minor. There is no accessory ring for items like a poop bag, often a necessity when taking your dog on a walk. It also may get twisted while retracting quickly, but we noticed this was easy to fix if it occurred. Finally, it was not the most durable leash we tested when rubbed against a knife, as the nylon tape is thin. We would not recommend leaving your dog alone with this leash when chewing may occur. However, for those taking their restless, sniff-tastic dog on a walk, the Fida leash is an excellent retractable option that offers a compact build and the comfort of reflective materials.

dog leash - the compact handle of the fida retractable leash.
The compact handle of the Fida Retractable Leash.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Best for Minimalists

Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash

Length tested: 5 feet | Material: Kernmantle rope
Carabiner attachment
Poop bag attachment loop

The Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash immediately stood out to our testers for one huge reason — its minimalist design makes it extremely compact. Great for those who like to explore with their dog off-leash, the Knot-a-Leash is ideal for taking your dog from car to trailhead and is easy to stash. The leash also has features like reflective material, a loop to attach accessories, and an incredibly durable locking carabiner to hook to your dog's collar. The carabiner can be locked by twisting a small piece over the gate, providing extra security when attached to your dog.

During testing, it was noted that the leash was a little short, coming in at only 5 feet compared to the 6 feet of many other leashes, but it was not a significant issue. We tested the “small” sized leash, which is 7mm thick, and found it to be a little flimsy when used on larger dogs. We would recommend using the “large” 11mm leash for pups that require a more sturdy leash. This leash's rope held up poorly when tested for fraying, while the carabiner attachment held firm in all situations. We would not recommend this for dogs who like to chew. However, it is an excellent choice for those searching for a compact, lightweight, no-fuss leash that's ready for your next adventure and easy to stash when it's no longer needed.

dog leash - we appreciate how small the knot-a-leash is when not in use. here it...
We appreciate how small the Knot-a-Leash is when not in use. Here it is packed into a fanny pack during a bike ride, alongside a number of other items with room to spare.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Durable, Colorful Leash

Primal Pet Gear Leash

Length tested: 6 feet | Material: Nylon
Dual Handles
Poop bag attachment loop

Like other multi-handle leashes we tested, the Primal Pet Gear Leash provides additional control via its second handle while embracing comfort through extra padding. It features an accessory attachment ring, reflective stitching, and it performed well in our durability tests. We also appreciated the multitude of color options to choose from, ensuring that you can find a leash that matches you and your dog's aesthetic.

As with other models, this leash's thicker construction (necessary for the dual handles) made it heavier to hold than a more basic leash. We recommend using the Primal Pet Gear leash on medium to large dogs who may not mind the additional weight and require more control.

dog leash - extra handles mean more control, whether there's a car coming...
Extra handles mean more control, whether there's a car coming, another dog, or the “s” word (that rhymes with "referral").
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Comfortable, Affordable Rope Leash

BAAPET 5ft Strong Leash

Length tested: 5 feet | Material: Rock climbing rope
Comfortable handle
May fray

Rope leashes have become trendier in recent years as the stylish look of rock climbing ropes has made its way to the pet world. The BAAPET 5FT Strong Leash stood out for its sturdy feel, affordability, and comfortable foam handle. This leash provided easy and sturdy control of all the dogs it was tested on, all at a reasonable price. We appreciated its extremely reflective material at night and the squishy foam handle that prevents rope burn when tugged by a dog.

We noticed that the foam handle tends to collect dust over time and is more susceptible to wear and tear compared to the rest of the leash (we were able to scratch a large chunk off by just using our fingernails). The rope itself frayed a decent amount during our friction test but otherwise held up well and did not collect much dirt. For its affordable price, rock climbing aesthetic, and comfortable handle, this is a decent leash.

dog leash - the extra padding on the baapet leash helped reduce the risk of rope...
The extra padding on the BAAPET leash helped reduce the risk of rope burn during testing.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Retractable Leash for Chewers

TUG 360 Tangle-Free Retractable Leash

Length tested: 16 feet | Material: Nylon tape
Great design
Chewer attachment

If you have a dog who likes to chew, but you still want to enjoy the freedom of a retractable leash, the TUG 360 Tangle-Free Retractable Leash has considered your needs. The TUG 360 itself is not chew-proof but arrives with a special, removable extension made of a thicker material that can be added to the dog's end of the leash. This extension is more durable than the tape of the leash if your dog decides to lunge for a mid-walk snack. Other merits of the TUG 360 are its tangle-free construction. It was designed with a special retraction opening that prevents the flat nylon tape from twisting and getting tangled on itself.

As noted before, the leash's actual nylon tape is not chew-proof and stood up poorly during our durability test. It also has no additional features, causing it to rank lower than other leashes. Finally, the TUG 360 felt bulky compared to others of similar size and length. If you're seeking a nice-looking retractable leash, don't mind a little bulk, and want the added security of the chewing attachment, we definitely recommend this leash.

dog leash - the tug retractable leash comes in a sleek, stylish design.
The TUG Retractable leash comes in a sleek, stylish design.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Stylish leash

Embark Urban Leash

Length tested: 4 feet | Material: Embroidered nylon
Hip patterns
User-friendly clasp
Frays easily

No matter who was testing the Embark Urban Leash, all immediately noted its pattern's aesthetic appeal. Available in many different options, the embroidered print received compliments no matter where we went. Testers also noted that the clasp was very easy to use one-handed, as part of the outside simply presses in when pressure is applied.

Aside from its patterned face fabric, the Embark Urban Leash is very simple. A flat leash constructed of nylon, this leash had no additional features to it. It also was considerably shorter than other leashes tested, coming only in a 4-foot length. Finally, while the nylon held up during our durability testing, the embroidered side frayed quickly and was easy to separate from the rest of the leash. With that in mind, we would recommend this model to those who highly value style and prefer a basic, short leash.

dog leash - this stylish leash stood out, no matter the setting.
This stylish leash stood out, no matter the setting.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Thick Rope Leash

ZippyPaws Tough Climbing Rope Leash

Length tested: 6 feet | Material: Climbing rope
Smooth clasp

The incredibly sturdy ZippyPaws Tough Climbing Rope Leash is a notably thick leash constructed with rock climbing rope. This rope leash held up well with minimal fraying during our durability test when rubbed against a knife, maintaining its structural integrity.

While aiding in durability, the thickness of this leash was a bit cumbersome to our testers. The leash is stiff due to its thickness and is not as pliable as the other leashes tested. Also, the thick material makes it harder for those with smaller hands to hold when it's coiled up. Overall, we would recommend the ZippyPaws leash for someone who values a sturdy leash above all else.

dog leash - we found the rope of the zippypaws to be bulky, especially when...
We found the rope of the ZippyPaws to be bulky, especially when coiled.
Credit: Jenni Snead

Why Trust GearLab

This review began with research, led by the input of our lead tester and dog-parent colleagues. We surveyed the available options for hours, comparing specs and including a wide range of leash types, before selecting the best models to test side by side. We created a structured and repeatable test plan to assess each leash across specific performance metrics. We attached each leash to stable structures and pulled with all our might, and used a knife blade as a friction test to imitate wear and tear. We also embarked on many walks, bike rides, and runs to assess the overall feel and comfort of the handles, which features are useful and which aren't, and how much each model helped increase our control over our pups. Our extensive lineup of human and canine testers helped us cover a wide range of dog personalities and leash uses, allowing our assessments to be comprehensive and useful to anyone looking for a new leash.

This review was brought to you by Sarah Sherman. For nearly every year of her life, Sarah has owned a dog. She's had tuggers, chewers, sniffers, snappers, and mellow dogs, amounting to thousands of walks. She knows what differentiates a good leash from a great leash and can pick out things that may grow frustrating over time. Together with the help of her dog, Indy, and their friends (both dog and human), she used her knowledge of dog walking and training and technical features to test each leash diligently. Each leash was put through an extensive testing process, used on both Indy and the dogs of friends. That includes a Husky, a Vizsla, a Newfoundland, a Saint Bernard, and many other mixed-breed dogs. Leashes were then ranked based upon metrics such as feel (control, tug, fit), durability, features, and style.

We put each leash to the test, calling upon friends and their pups...
We put each leash to the test, calling upon friends and their pups for additional opinions.
The simple, compact handle of the Rida Retractable Leash is...
The simple, compact handle of the Rida Retractable Leash is available in a number of colors.
Testing the Fida and TUG extendable leashes side by side.
Testing the Fida and TUG extendable leashes side by side.

Analysis and Test Results

Through thorough, side-by-side testing of an array of different dog leashes, we were able to identify the best dog leashes for a multitude of purposes. While some leashes are basic by design, others go all out to provide all of the features you may need while taking your canine companion for a stroll. Below, we highlight which models did best in our specific performance metrics.

dog leash - bear put up no fight when asked to increase his daily walk frequency...
Bear put up no fight when asked to increase his daily walk frequency to test out an array of leashes with us.
Credit: Jason Peters


A leash's feel is determined by a couple of different factors: what does it feel like in your hand, and what kind of control does it give you when walking your dog? We tested each leash with feel in mind, having multiple people hold, wear (when applicable), and use each leash, comparing the feel of the leash in their hands.

dog leash - although the knot-a-leash is only 5ft in length as opposed to most...
Although the Knot-a-Leash is only 5ft in length as opposed to most dog leashes that are 6ft, we felt like we had more control and were able to manage the shorter length much better than anticipated.
Credit: Bligh Gillies

With three handles spaced along its length, the Max and Neo leash provides plenty of control, which our testers with larger, pulling dogs love. It's not a great option for small dogs, though, as there is just more material than necessary for little dog bodies. The PetSafe Nylon Leash also scored high in the feel category. While this leash is very simple in its design, that same simplicity gives the walker quick and easy control over their dog. This could be extremely beneficial for someone who is training a dog to walk on-leash, as it allows for corrections to be made without a fuss. We also favored the ease of use of the retractable models we tested.

dog leash - it's easier to handle the squirrel-driven impulses of shasta, our...
It's easier to handle the squirrel-driven impulses of Shasta, our Newfoundland, with the Max and Neo leash that has three handles spaced along the length of the leash for adjustable control.
Credit: David Wise

The Ruffwear Roamer Leash is interesting to observe in this category. With two handles, each comfortable to hold, it gains points. It also has a long, very stretchy bungee that allows for elasticity when running or moving quickly, but also results in a loss of control when quick corrections to the dog's direction are necessary. These factors were taken into account, ultimately resulting in a slightly above-average “Feel” score for this leash.

dog leash - holding to lower handle on the roamer to increase control over indy...
Holding to lower handle on the Roamer to increase control over Indy when crossing the street. Depending on the height of the parent and the pup, holding onto this lower handle, located right next to the collar buckle, might involve bending over.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Not every leash is designed to have many features, which can be a positive thing — but certain features make a leash great for many pet parents. From accessory loops (for attaching items like a poop bag dispenser) to reflective stitching to bungees, additional handles, and more, each leash's features were utilized and critically assessed.

dog leash - the locking carabiner makes for an extra secure connection point and...
The locking carabiner makes for an extra secure connection point and is very easy to use.
Credit: Bligh Gillies

The Ruffwear Roamer's primary handle can also turn into a waistband with a padded area in case your dog is a strong puller. It's a streamlined and unbulky option without many buckles or attachments.

dog leash - the adjustable handle on the roamer makes it easy to strap the leash...
The adjustable handle on the Roamer makes it easy to strap the leash to poles, chairs when out for dinner, or one's waist when going for a run.
Credit: Sarah Sherman

The Max and Neo Triple Handle Leash also tested high in this category. Not only did testers appreciate the three different handles, which offer various options for handling their dog, but it also has an accessory ring and paddled handles. This accessory ring enables the walker to attach items like a poop bag holder or treat bag, and the padded handles provide extra comfort. All of these features combined resulted in a high score in this category.

dog leash - as dog owners, there are few things worse than being caught in...
As dog owners, there are few things worse than being caught in public without a poop bag. Accessory loops like this one on the Primal Pet Gear Leash make it easy to always be prepared.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


Durability is a necessity for every dog leash, both for the dog's safety and the safety of others. We took our durability testing seriously, doing all we could to simulate the wear and tear a leash may accumulate through years of use. The first test we performed was our tug test. This test was meant to find out how sturdy the clasp end of each leash was, by attaching it to a stable pillar and tugging as hard as possible multiple times on the leash. We followed this up with a car test, where each leash was closed into the trunk of a car and driven down the street, seeing how the leash held up to dragging along the pavement. Finally, each leash was sliced ten times in the same spot by a steak knife, testing its fabric's durability and noting how it frayed.

dog leash - to test the strength of each leash, we performed a number of hard...
To test the strength of each leash, we performed a number of hard tugs, inspecting the clasp afterward for sturdiness.
Credit: Sarah Sherman

Constructed with similarly thick nylon material, we were impressed by the durability of the Max and Neo Triple Handle Leash and the Primal Pet Leash. These leashes showed very minimal signs of fraying from the knife and have functioning, sturdy clasps after tugging and dragging. We like that the TUG retractable leash comes with an attachment to reduce the risk of a serious chewer getting through the leash. The leash material itself is very thin, but the reinforced attachment provides a much more robust material close to the dog's mouth to increase the amount of time it would take for Fido to chomp through it.

Our dog leash drag test to simulate months of dragging and abuse.
Our dog leash drag test to simulate months of dragging and abuse.
Clasps of some of the leashes tested after our "drag" test.
Clasps of some of the leashes tested after our "drag" test.

The Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash has a very secure carabiner attachment, but the rope is thin and could be chewed through quickly. We wish the BAAPET handle had more durability, as the foam handle was easy to chip away, but the leash itself is thick and should maintain its integrity for many walks. We found the external sheath of this rope leash weaker than others, but its inner core is more densely braided and stronger than its external cover. Overall, every leash we tested has pretty strong durability and should last several months to years. None had any unacceptable flaws in regards to durability.

dog leash - fraying after our knife durability test.
Fraying after our knife durability test.
Credit: Sarah Sherman


While it does not directly impact a leash's function, style can still play a role when picking a leash for you and your dog. To account for this, we ranked leashes based upon the variety of colors and designs available and the general look of each leash. We had all our dog parents in the test crew, as well as our friends and neighbors, weigh in with their thoughts on looks, too.

The Knot-a-Leash is super lightweight, highly visible, and looks...
The Knot-a-Leash is super lightweight, highly visible, and looks great for everyday walks or out on your next adventure.
The pattern on the Embark Urban Dog Leash caught many eyes on the...
The pattern on the Embark Urban Dog Leash caught many eyes on the trail.

Soaring to the top of this category with its unique, embroidered pattern, the Embark Urban gained compliments wherever it went. To top it off, Embark offers a wide variety of colors and patterns, giving many options to choose from to ensure their style (and that of their dog) is accounted for. The Ruffwear Knot-A-Leash also stands out as a stylish option in Lake Tahoe's mountain town neighborhoods, where most testing was conducted.

dog leash - we take our testing process seriously. the right leash can make a...
We take our testing process seriously. The right leash can make a difference for your enjoyment and your dog's safety.
Credit: Jason Peters


After countless walks, runs, specific tests, and taking the needs of both canine and homosapien into consideration, we bring you our comprehensive review of the best dog leashes available today. We hope you and your dog find the leash that will best meet your needs, whatever they may be.

Sarah Sherman