The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Best Dog Leash of 2020

During testing  we went on a ton of walks to learn about these products' performance. Indy  our lead test canine  loved it.
By Sarah Sherman ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday July 15, 2020
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To sort out the leaders of the pack, we considered 25 of the top-ranked leashes before buying and testing 11 of the best dog leashes of 2020, 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.

1

Best Overall Dog Leash


Max and Neo Heavy Duty Reflective Leash


Editors' Choice Award
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$18.99
at Amazon
See It

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

The Max and Neo Triple Handle dog leash wins our top spot, hands down. Boasting three neoprene lined handles, this leash gives you easy control over your dog while providing a comfortable grip. We found the middle handle to be unique to this leash and favored its placement to that of the handle closest to the dog, which was hard to reach without reigning your dog in close (though useful in tight situations). The leash has reflective stitching along it to keep the walker and dog more noticeable to passing cars during evening walks, and a handy metal ring at the top of the leash to attach small accessories like a dog poop bag. Finally, the leash stood up well against our durability testing, showing minimal fraying when rubbed against a knife, no distress when strongly tugged on, and remaining functional after dragging.

Because of its triple handle design and neoprene handle lining, it is important to note that this Max and Neo model is heavier in-hand compared to other dog leashes tested. This was not a deterrent for our testers, but it may not be best for those looking for a small, lightweight, or packable leash, or those with a smaller dog. Medium to large-sized dogs will benefit most from this leash, especially if they are strong pullers. Overall, this leash provides great control and comfort during walks and should be considered by owners who don't mind the added weight of additional handles.

The Max and Neo leash performed well both on the streets and on the trail.
The Max and Neo leash performed well both on the streets and on the trail.

2

Best Overall Bungee Dog Leash


Ruffwear Roamer


Editors' Choice Award
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$39.95
at Amazon
See It

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
Expensive

If you're constantly looking for the next active adventure for you and your dog, the versatile RUFFWEAR Roamer may be for you. The Roamer features a hardy clasp, two handles, a bungee middle, and an adjustable buckled handle that can also be put comfortably around one's waist or used to secure your dog as needed. It's because of these features that 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 were moving quickly, like biking, for example. The extra stretch of the leash (almost four feet) was greatly appreciated when the dog suddenly pulled in a different direction, which prevented sudden jerking movements that could be treacherous on a bike. One of our pairs of testers has even used it for skijoring in the winter. It's also less weight and less bulk than other elastic models we've tested, so stuffing the Roamer into a pack is easier than similar models.

Testers did note 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 leash that is practical for many outings, adventures, and activities, who do not need tight, constant control over their pup's roaming.

We enjoyed using the adjustable handle as a waist strap  too.
We enjoyed using the adjustable handle as a waist strap, too.

3

Best Bang for Your Buck


PetSafe Nylon Leash


Best Buy Award
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$8
List Price
See It

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

The PetSafe Nylon Leash is the most basic leash we tested, in a good way. Simple, durable, and functional, this flat leash is great for those teaching a puppy how to walk on a leash or in 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 for those looking to match their preference.

There's nothing wrong with this feature-less model, but if you are someone who prefers bells and whistles that some leashes may offer, 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 very basic in its design, meant for easy function. However, if you are looking for a simple leash that gets the job done without any fuss, the PetSafe Nylon Leash is calling your name at an affordable price.

Indy happily trotting along under the simple guidance of the PetSafe leash.
Indy happily trotting along under the simple guidance of the PetSafe leash.

4

Best Retractable Leash


Fida Heavy Duty Retractable Leash


Top Pick Award
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$13.99
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 16 feet | Material: Nylon tape
Lightweight
Reflective
Sturdy
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 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 flat nylon tape of the leash 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 as well as down. We also appreciated that it came in multiple yet simple color options.

The downsides of this leash are few. The leash had no accessory ring for items like a poop bag, which are 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, because the nylon tape is so thin, it was not the most durable leash we tested when rubbed against a knife. We would not recommend leaving your dog alone with this leash when chewing may occur. Overall the Fida Retractable model is a great retractable option that offers a compact build and the comfort of reflective materials—great for those taking their restless, sniff-tastic dog on a walk.

The compact handle of the Fida Retractable Leash.
The compact handle of the Fida Retractable Leash.

5

Best for Minimalists


Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash


Top Pick Award
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$34.95
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 5 feet | Material: Kernmantle rope
Lightweight
Carabiner attachment
Reflective
Poop bag attachment loop
Short
Flimsy

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 the leash to your dog. 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 major 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 strong in all situations. We would not recommend this for dogs who like to chew. However, we would recommend it if you are 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.

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.
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.

6

Best for Runners


TaoTronics TT-PA006 Retractable Hands Free Leash


Top Pick Award
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$16.99
(15% off)
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 6 ft + 10 inches of stretch | Material: Bungees and nylon
Separate, optional waist attachment
Dual Handles
Poop bag attachment ring
Offers some stretch
Durable
Bulky
Heavy

If for you, quality time with your dog means running together, then this leash was made with you in mind. The TaoTronics TT-PA006 Leash utilizes an adjustable waist belt and removable leash to make running with your dog hands- and hassle-free. The leash portion provides two handles for when you need tight control of your dog (you never know when you may meet a friend on the trail), as well as two sturdy bungees to relieve pressure from pulling. It also features reflective stitching to help keep you safe at night and an accessory attachment ring for items like a poop bag dispenser.

If that seems like a lot to pack into one leash, you're right. While each feature serves a purpose, we did note that this leash felt bulky and heavy because of it. Stashing this model ina backpack during off-leash time takes up more space than you'd expect for a leash. This model may not be best for those looking to take simple walks around the block, unless your dog is a strong puller and you are concerned you may lose your grip on the leash. The TaoTronics Leash is a great option for those who like to run with their dog, want a stiff elastic option, or desire a hands-free option.

Testing the TaoTronics TT-PA006 on an evening run.
Testing the TaoTronics TT-PA006 on an evening run.

7

Durable, Colorful Leash


Primal Pet Gear Leash


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$14.95
(25% off)
at Amazon
See It

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

Similar to 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 stood up well when put up against 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, the thicker construction of this leash made necessary for the dual handles made it heavier to hold than a more basic leash. We would recommend using this leash on medium to large dogs who may not mind the additional weight and require more control.

Extra handles mean more control  whether there's a car coming  another dog  or the "s" word (that rhymes with "referral").
Extra handles mean more control, whether there's a car coming, another dog, or the "s" word (that rhymes with "referral").

8

Comfortable, Affordable Rope Leash


BAAPET 5ft Strong Leash


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$10.79
(28% off)
at Amazon
See It

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

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

We did notice 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 seem to collect much dirt. This rope leash should be considered for its affordable price, rock climbing aesthetic, and comfortable handle.

The extra padding on the BAAPET leash helped reduce the risk of rope burn during testing.
The extra padding on the BAAPET leash helped reduce the risk of rope burn during testing.

9

Retractable Leash for Chewers


TUG 360 Tangle-Free Retractable Leash


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$16.99
(51% off)
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 16 feet | Material: Nylon tape
Tangle-free
Great design
Chewer attachment
Bulky

Have a dog who likes to chew, but still want to enjoy the freedom of a retractable leash? The TUG 360 Retractable Leash has considered your needs. The TUG Leash itself is not chew-proof but arrives with a special, removable extension that is made of a thicker material that can be added to the dog side of the leash. This extension is more durable than the tape of the leash if your dog decides she needs 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 actual nylon tape of the leash 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, this retractable leash felt bulky compared to others of similar size and length. We would recommend this leash to someone who wants a retractable leash, doesn't mind a little bulk, values aesthetic appeal, and may want the added security of the chewing attachment.

The TUG Retractable leash comes in a sleek  stylish design.
The TUG Retractable leash comes in a sleek, stylish design.

10

Stylish leash


Embark Urban Leash


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$13.99
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 4 feet | Material: Embroidered nylon
Hip patterns
Easy to use clasp
Frays easily
Short

No matter who was testing the Embark Urban Dog Leash, all immediately noted the aesthetic appeal of its pattern. 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 Dog 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 of the leash frayed quickly and was easy to separate from the rest of the leash. With that in mind, we would recommend this leash to those who highly value style and prefer a basic, short leash.

This stylish leash stood out  no matter the setting.
This stylish leash stood out, no matter the setting.

11

Thick Rope Leash


ZippyPaws Tough Climbing Rope Leash


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$10.80
(40% off)
at Amazon
See It

Length tested: 6 feet | Material: Climbing rope
Sturdy
Smooth clasp
Chunky
Heavy

The ZippyPaws Climbers Leash is a notably thick leash constructed with rock climbing rope — it is incredibly sturdy. During our durability test, this rope leash held up well with minimal fraying when rubbed against a knife, maintaining its structural integrity.

The thickness of the leash, while helping it remain durable, did prove to be cumbersome to our testers. The leash is stiff because of its thickness and does not twist or bend as well as other leashes tested. Also, the thick material makes it hard for those with smaller hands to coil if needed. We would recommend this leash to someone who values a sturdy leash above all else.

We found the rope of the ZippyPaws to be bulky  especially when coiled.
We found the rope of the ZippyPaws to be bulky, especially when coiled.

Why You Should Trust Us


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, as well as their friends (both dog and human), she used her knowledge of dog walking and training, as well as technical features, to diligently test each leash. 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.

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 line-up of human and canine testers helped us cover a wide range of dog personalities and leach uses, allowing our assessments to be comprehensive and useful to anyone looking for a new leash.

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 available in a number of colors.
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.

Bear put up no fight when asked to increase his daily walk frequency to test out an array of leashes with us.
Bear put up no fight when asked to increase his daily walk frequency to test out an array of leashes with us.

Feel


The feel of the leash 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 leashes in their hands.

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.
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.

The Max and Neo leash provides plenty of control with its three handles spaced along the length of the leash, which our testers with larger, pulling dogs love. It's not a great option for small dogs, though, as there is just too much material to be necessary for little dog bodies. Another leash that scored high in the feel category is the PetSafe Nylon Leash. 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.

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.
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.

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. Each of these factors was taken into account, ultimately resulting in a slightly above average "Feel" score for this leash.

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.
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.

Features


Not every leash is designed to have many features, and that 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, the features of each leash were utilized and critically assessed.

The locking carabiner makes for an extra secure connection point and is very easy to use.
The locking carabiner makes for an extra secure connection point and is very easy to use.

One leash stood out for its use of features, and that was the TaoTronics TT-PA006 Leash. This leash comes with an accessory loop, two bungees, two handles, and the option to clip it to a separate waistband for hands-free walking or running. While not everyone may need all of those features, the TaoTronics model provides more options for variations in how you walk or run with your dog. The RUFFWEAR Roamer's primary handle can also turn into a waistband. While it isn't separate or removable, like the TaoTronics, it does have a padded area that is appreciated with strong pullers. There are also fewer buckles and attachments on the Roamer, making it a more streamlined and less bulky option compared to the TaoTronics 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.
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.

The Max and Neo Triple Handle Leash also tested high in this category. Not only did testers appreciate the three different handles, which offers different 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.

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.
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.

Durability


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. This test was then followed up by 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 pavement. Finally, each leash was cut ten times in the same spot by a steak knife, testing the durability of its fabric and noting how it frayed.

To test the strength of each leash  we performed a number of hard tugs  inspecting the clasp afterward for sturdiness.
To test the strength of each leash, we performed a number of hard tugs, inspecting the clasp afterward for sturdiness.

We were impressed by the durability of the Max and Neo Triple Handle Leash and the Primal Pet Leash, which are constructed similarly from thick nylon material. Each of 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 leach 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.
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 did find the external sheath of this rope leash to be 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.

Fraying after our knife durability test.
Fraying after our knife durability test.

Style


While it does not directly impact the function of a leash, 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, as well as the general look fo 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 great for everyday walks or out on your next adventure.
The pattern on the Embark Urban Dog Leash caught many eyes on the trail!

The Embark Urban Dog Leash soared to the top of this category, as its unique, embroidered pattern 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 the mountain town neighborhoods of Lake Tahoe, where most testing was conducted.

We take our testing process seriously. The right leash can make a difference for your enjoyment and your dog's safety.
We take our testing process seriously. The right leash can make a difference for your enjoyment and your dog's safety.

Conclusion


After countless walks, strange tests that made our neighbors stare, and taking the needs of you and your dog 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