We can all agree that maintaining control over your dog’s behavior is important—and leashes help us keep them close and in check. While regular leashes are best for teaching boundaries to puppies, retractable leashes—along with commands and rules—may be better suited for adult dogs with well-established manners. Like all canine accessories, one size doesn’t fit all. The best retractable leash for large dogs will be different than the best retractable leash for small dogs, and dogs that pull will benefit from an even stronger model. Overall, we think the best retractable leash is the Flexi Neon Reflective Retractable Dog Leash ($17). If you’re on a budget, have two dogs to walk or want a stylish retractable leash, we got you covered, too.
The 11 Best Retractable Dog Leashes
Because You Could Use an Upgrade
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What Is a Retractable Dog Leash?
Retractable dog leashes are leads that change length. They’re spring-loaded for flexibility, meaning your dog can roam farther than they might be able to when tethered to a regular leash. Since you hold the retractable leash, you get to decide how much give your dog gets.
Who Should Use a Retractable Dog Leash?
A pro tip? Wait until your pup is properly trained in dog-walking etiquette before using a retractable leash. They offer more freedom, making them excellent options for wide open spaces. They can certainly be used during training sessions, but untrained dogs may inadvertently put themselves in danger wandering too far from you.
While there are tons of retractable leashes on the market, many are made with plastic and wear down easily (especially if you’ve got a big dog or an avid chewer). We rounded up the best retractable dog leashes of 2022 based on materials, design, innovation and reviews.
What Is the Best Retractable Leash for a Dog That Pulls?
If your dog pulls or lunges forward on walks, essentially dragging you to their destination of choice, you should look into a harness. Some, with front clips, can discourage pulling. However, Spirit Dog training says the best way to curb this behavior is through targeted training.
If you’re hoping to use a retractable leash for a dog that pulls, we like the ThunderLeash. From the same company that makes ThunderShirts, this leash gently dissuades dogs from pulling without using a harness. It clips onto their collar and a separate strap wraps around their chest. Again, don’t rely on accessories alone to stop your dog from pulling.
How to Choose the Right Retractable Dog Leash
We can’t tell you which retractable dog leash is best for you, but here are the factors to take into consideration when making your choice:
- Handle: Is the handle ergonomic? Is it cushioned or straight up plastic? Since you’re the one who will have to grip it the entire walk, make sure it’s something you can easily grasp. Some retractable leashes we looked at had laughably small handles.
- Reflectivity or lights: Night walks require extra safety protocols, including collars, leashes and booties that either reflect light or have a light you can turn on and off. If you walk pre- or post-sunset, get a retractable leash with some lighting.
- Tangle-free nylon leash: Nylon ribbon-style leashes designed not to tangle when retracted are the only way to go.
- Chrome or stainless steel clasps: Any material that can rust is not ideal for retractable leashes. Look for stainless steel or chrome clasps and hardware.
- Weight limit: Always check the weight limits manufacturers put on retractable leashes.
How We Chose the Best Retractable Leashes
We rounded up the best retractable dog leashes of 2023 based on:
- Materials: Does the product hold up?
- Design: Is the product easy to use?
- Innovation: Does the product solve a common problem
- Trainer expertise: Have experts in the industry weighed in?
- Reviews: What do real customers have to say?
The 11 Best Retractable Dog Leashes at a Glance
- Best Overall: Flexi Neon Reflective Retractable Dog Leash ($17)
- Best for Large Dogs: Mighty Paw Retractable Dog Leash 2.0 ($20)
- Best for Dogs That Pull: ThunderLeash ($40)
- Best on a Budget: Tug 360° Retractable Dog Leash (From $15)
- Best Hands-Free Retractable Dog Leash: moestar UFO Retractable Dog Leash ($25)
- Best for Two Dogs: Meegood Double Retractable Dog Leash ($21)
- Best for Chewers: Expawlorer Retractable Dog Leash ($26)
- Most Stylish: Maxbone Retractable Leash ($35)
- Best for Small Dogs: FLEXI New Classic Retractable Dog Leash ($15)
- Best Heavy Duty: Dial A-Distance Retractable Dog Leash ($35)
- Best Retractable Leash with a Light: QQPets Retractable Dog Leash with LED Flashlight ($15)
- What We Like: Reflectivity, simplicity
- What We Don't Like: No clip for poop bag holder, XS size doesn’t extend as far
- Length: 10 ft. (XS), 16 ft. (S, M, L)
- Standout review: “I got this leash in 2021 and it is still my dog's only leash. Have never had any issues with it. Has not frayed, gotten stuck, broken, or had a single problem. We use a dog walking company so many, many different people have used this leash. It's held up like a dream. I would absolutely recommend!!”
The Flexi Neon Reflective Retractable Dog Leash offers up everything you want and need in a retractable dog leash. Both the nylon, ribbon-style leash and the padded handle reflect light, making nighttime walks safer. According to Chewy, Flexi is a pioneer in the world of retractable leashes and all of their models are made from high-quality materials in Germany where they are tested for durability.
Best for Large Dogs
- What We Like: Reflective handle, stainless steel mechanism
- What We Don't Like: Poop bag feature may fall off
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “These are great leashes. They retract well, they lock in place well! I have two, 100 pound Rottweilers and they hold them really really great. I use them on our walks through country trails near my home, and if I encounter somebody running past me, I can reel them in really quick with commands, and I can actually lock this leash so they can’t accidentally step in front of the person.”
Large dogs require some extra oomph when it comes to a solid leash. The Mighty Paws Retractable Standard Dog Leash 2.0 works for canines up to 110 pounds. Its nylon ribbon-style leash is half an inch thick and the handle is ergonomic. There’s also a D-ring so you can clip on the poop bag holder of your choice. Some reviewers noted the nylon punctured easily, though Mighty Paw’s excellent customer service replaced their leashes immediately, as they stand by their products.
Best for Dogs That Pull
- What We Like: Can be used as a regular leash or a no-pull leash, reflective, ergonomic
- What We Don't Like: May get tangled at no-pull configuration site, phasing out large size
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “This was our second purchase of the ThunderLeash. We had such great success with the first one we donated it to the forever home of a dog we were fostering. When we adopted a new dog that had ‘pulling’ issues we naturally thought of the ThunderLeash and purchased another one.”
As mentioned above, ThunderLeash has an extra strap that wraps around your dog’s chest to prevent them from pulling. It clips onto your dog’s collar and then you wrap the strap around the chest and thread it through the no-pull loop. The only drawback is the company recently phased out the retractable version for large breeds. You can still buy their standard no-pull configuration leashes, though.
- What We Like: Tangle-free 360-degree movement
- What We Don't Like: Locking mechanism can be stubborn, not great for chewers
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “This leash has a good weight and solid feel to it. My dog is medium sized but powerful and not as well disciplined on a leash as he should be. Owner's fault there. He pulls like a pack mule if he finds something worth sniffing. Anyway, I have no concern that the lead strap will break. The thumb lock and release is firm and reliable.”
The Tug 360° retractable leash does it all - and for a good price. With more than 60,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and a best seller rating, it’s a clear favorite. Choose from four sizes with various ranges and seven colors. It’s got an ergonomic grip for you and a tangle-free mechanism for your pup (though it doesn’t stand up to chew tests, so go with our best leash for chewers instead).
Best Hands-Free Retractable Dog Leash
- What We Like: Comfortable to use, nylon ribbon, stainless steel clip
- What We Don't Like: Not as long as other options, lock mechanism can be confusing
- Length: 10 ft.
- Standout review: “Trying to walk with two leashes… two dogs, water, treats, plus my own stuff.. I never have enough hands or pockets! Lol this leash is awesome for the fact that I can just put it on my arm and still hold the other leash with the same hand.”
Picking up poop while holding your phone and the leash? Good recipe for disaster. This Smart LED leash, which comes complete with bathroom baggies, lets users slide the handle onto their wrist for hands-free dog walking. This is definitely not recommended for determined pullers; it’s ideal for dog owners with pups who patiently trot alongside them. Use your phone or hold your coffee (or both! With two hands!) with this leash.
Best for Two Dogs
- What We Like: Stainless steel clips that swivel 360 degrees, nylon ribbon
- What We Don't Like: Not suitable for large dogs, two different lead lengths
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “I have an Australian Herding Dog (5 years) and a French Bulldog (9 mos) that I walk together on this lead. I put the larger dog on the slightly longer lead and the smaller dog on the shorter one. It took a couple of tries for them to get used to it, but once they did dog walking was a snap.”
Hundreds of 5-star reviews, a zero-tangle feature and 16 feet of lead make this double retractable leash a must-have for multi-dog households. The handle is fabricated with anti-slip material which helps you when your pups are moving in multiple directions. Use it with dogs up to 50 pounds each (or 100 pounds total). One thing to note: One lead is slightly longer than the other to help taper where each dog walks. Some users say their dogs hate this, while others say it’s been an easy adjustment.
Best for Chewers
- What We Like: Tangle-free nylon leash, steel clips, reflectivity
- What We Don't Like: Handle is heavier than other options, slow retraction function
- Length: 16 ft. plus 19.5 in. or 27.5 in. with added length
- Standout review: “My dog usually chews her leashes within a day. This one doesn’t even show bite marks! I recommend this to everyone!”
This leash comes with two steel, bite-resistant wire ropes that attach to the nylon strap (which can handle up to 440 pounds of weight pulling on it). This means you can walk one or two heavy chewers without worrying they’ll destroy the leash. It also has a tangle-free design and is comfy to hold. It can also be used to walk two dogs at once if both extra nylon straps are added at the same time.
- What We Like: Color, design, reflectivity
- What We Don't Like: Pricey, not for large breeds
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “Function wise, it's easy to use and very convenient for walks. Hooks to the Easy Fit Harness perfectly, doesn't get tangled like some other retractable leashes, and easy to clean. The handle is comfortable to hold, and although a tad too big for the [Maxbone] Easy Waste Bag to attach, but I just got a larger clip carabiner and it fixed the issue.”
When it comes to accessorizing with your dog gear, Maxbone is where it’s at. Designed for dogs up to 44 pounds, this peachy-colored retractable leash extends up to 16 feet and has shiny silver hardware. It has a smooth finish and nothing but 5-star reviews.
Best for Small Dogs
- What We Like: Ergonomic handle, fast reacting brake mechanism
- What We Don't Like: No reflectivity
- Length: 16 ft.
- Standout review: “Our second leash from this brand and in this size. We used it for 12 years for our little dog. It had seen a lot of sand on beaches and ice on mountains.”
Flexi, once again, is a top tier leash manufacturer. This version is terrific for small breeds and is compatible with Flexi’s Multi Black Box which holds poop bags, keys or whatever else you can fit in there that you may need. You can also buy the Flexi LED Lighting System if you want added safety measures for your tiny pup at nighttime.
Best Heavy Duty
- What We Like: Built-in brake mechanism for dogs who dart, works for dogs up to 70 pounds
- What We Don't Like: No reflectivity, less length than other options
- Length: 15 ft.
- Standout review: “For decades, I've been frustrated with retractable leashes for the very problem that this leash solves. When I want to shorten the max length of other retractable leashes, the spring reaction stops working, of course. With this, you use a dial to set maximum length, and the spring retraction continues to work. LOVE IT.”
If you’re tired of manually activating the lock mechanism on retractable leashes, go with this heavy duty version that allows you to pre-set how far your pup can wander. You can still manually brake if you want, this model just gives you extra security if your dog makes quick moves or you’re distracted.
Best Retractable Leash with a Light
- What We Like: Built-in light, ergonomic handle
- What We Don't Like: Bulkier than other options
- Length: 10 ft. (small) or 16 ft. (large)
- Standout review: “Doesn't get twisted or tangled up like other leashes I had. The light is bright enough also. Good for night time walks, keeps one hand free from using a flashlight or wearing one of those headlights.”
If you need a little extra guidance at night, this retractable leash comes with a built-in LED flashlight. It requires two AAA batteries, so be sure to test it before you head outside. This model comes in two sizes, one for large breeds up to 110 pounds and one for medium-sized dogs up to 44 pounds.
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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her cats, Foxy and Jacques, make appearances in her work, as do her own struggles with mental health and infertility. Sarah has a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Chicago and is working towards her Masters in Journalism at NYU.