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A reliable dog lead is one piece of canine kit that no pet parent can be without. Not only will it stop Fido from running away, it’s also vital for keeping your hound safe and sound. But with thousands on the market in different styles, materials and lengths, choosing one suitable for your four-legged friend can be trickier than training them not to chew your favourite pair of shoes.
Luckily, here at Mumsnet we have a loyal pack of impartial dog owners and vets on our forums happy to share their recommendations. These testimonies, alongside numerous consumer reviews from pet owners up and down the country as well as guidance from pet experts such as The Kennel Club, have driven our round-up of the top dog leashes around.
So whether your pup habitually pounds the pavements or is more of a countryside pooch, here are the best dog leads for 2022.
1. Best overall dog lead: Belababy Medium Dog Leash
Price: £9.77 | Buy now from Amazon
“I’ve only ever used short leads with my dogs. On the lead means you’re absolutely in charge.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user YellowPenPinkPen)
“I have a 1.5m lead which I put on if we’re near a road, on a woodland path or near livestock.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user DoubleTweenQueen)
While not yet a big name in the dog lead domain, Belababy nevertheless boasts the best leash on the market. With hundreds of five-star reviews from buyers impressed by both its superb quality and reasonable price, this nylon lead offers excellent control thanks to dual handles, the second of which is located 30cm from the clip and is ideal for when you need to hold your dog close, such as near traffic or other animals.
Comfortable to hold, well-made and with reflective stitching for added nighttime visibility, it even comes with free poop bags and dispenser – although the latter may lack the durability of the lead itself.
Advertised as suitable for dogs of all sizes, we’d particularly recommend it for medium and larger breeds as this lead may hang on the floor when used by petite pooches – or indeed humans – at full length.
May be unsuitable for smaller dogs
2. Best budget dog lead: Pets at Home Design Woven Padded Dog Lead
Price: £5 | Buy now from Pets At Home
“I wouldn’t use a retractable lead in the streets and I always carry a short lead to switch to for close control when needed.” (Rated by Mumsnet user Aztec283y)
“Can you take a short lead for the more ‘risky’ part of your walks, then swap to extendable when it’s safe?” (Recommended by Mumsnet user thisstooshallpass)
When money’s tighter than a Rottweiler’s jaws around a marrowbone, this simple, affordable dog lead from Pets at Home is a faithful friend. Mumsnetters rightly recommend a short lead for urban strolls or walks in busy areas and at 102cm, this one ensures that your canine companion is always by your side and the likelihood of tangles is minimal.
Suitable for dogs up to 28kg, including medium-size breeds such as Border Collies, Springer Spaniels and Labradors, this lead features a reassuring safety clip that can be locked into position once attached to your dog’s collar. The added bonus is that it can go in the washing machine once it inevitably becomes dirty.
May be unsuitable for small or extra-large dogs
3. Best extendable dog lead: Flexi Giant Neon Dog Lead
Price: From £26.49 | Buy now from Viovet
“I use a Flexi XL (bright yellow) and a 20m long tape, depending on what type of walk we are having. Both take a bit of getting used to so you don't wrap them around other dogs or people, but both have their place.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user SourMilkGhyll)
“The Flexi Giant XL has bright yellow tape almost an inch thick. It’s the best of the retractables… It’s easily seen, avoided and thick enough to wrap around your hand.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user RoastedHazelnutLatte)
“Flexi lead. Really long lines and really, really strong.” (Rated by Mumsnet user Shelby10)
Retractable leads divide opinion among Mumsnetters, yet many dog owners wouldn’t be without theirs due to it offering their pet a sense of freedom while still on a leash.
The robust Flexi Giant lead comes with reviews as glowing as its super-strong, neon-yellow tape, which is clearly visible and less likely to cause injury than the rope-like cord of some alternatives.
Available in three sizes, the XL version is suitable for even large, powerful pooches and makes it far easier to retrieve your Retriever than using a longline. Perfect for allowing Fido to potter off for a sniff without the worry of him tumbling off a cliff.
Heavier and more cumbersome than some leads
Unsuitable for compact canines
4. Best longline dog lead: Maximum Pet Products 20m Training Lunge Lead
Price: £7.95 | Buy now from Amazon
“Get a lunge lead – I got this one. Takes a bit of practice to let it out and loop it back in, but it means you can train recall at any time of the day.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Shannith)
“Get a standard longline. You soon learn to loop it and gather it easily.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user StillMedusa)
Many pet owners embarking on recall training opt for a longline that allows their furry friend to explore and which you can simply stand on if your dog wanders too far.
This lead is likely to get both wet and dirty (with mud and possibly worse) on a regular basis, which is worth bearing in mind when choosing from the rainbow of colours available – as is the fact that this uber-long lead ideally needs to stand out against grass, Tarmac or other surfaces.
Best used in rural or open areas that are free of trees, undergrowth, people and other unsuspecting obstacles for it to become tangled around, this British-made longline is both simple and effective.
Ideal for recall training
Array of colour options
Offers limited control
May be longer than required
5. Best leather dog lead: Ancol Vintage Leather Padded Lead
Price: £21.49 | Buy now from Amazon
“I like Ancol collars and leads. They are padded and comfortable.” (Rated by Mumsnet user CoffeeBeansGalore)
“I have an Ancol lead that can hold a 50kg Wolfhound.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Wolfiefan)
Classy in design and capable of standing the test of time, leather dog leads remain popular today despite the thousands of manmade alternatives on the market. Not only do they look the part, but they’re comfortable to hold and extremely durable to boot. They’re often pricier than their synthetic counterparts, yet this stylish Ancol leather lead is fairly priced and within many dog owners’ reach.
While this 22mm-wide lead is suitable for pets of up to a sizeable 50kg, there’s also a 12mm option that’ll be ideal for petite pooches such as Pomeranians, Pugs and Pekingese.
This quality lead will soften over time and provides great grip too.
May be stiff at first
6. Best hands-free dog lead: Ruffwear Crag Dog Lead
Price: £39.95 | Buy now from Amazon
“Most of our collars and leads are Ruffwear – they last really well.” (Vetted by Mumnet user VetOnCall)
“I’m another Ruffwear fan. They age well and have lovely colours.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user MiniChoc)
Dog owners the world over rate Ruffwear’s adjustable Crag Dog Lead for its versatility and multiple features, including reflective webbing, that make it ideal for outdoor adventurers – both canine and human.
Able to be handheld, waist-worn or secured around a tree, this colourful lead comes in a variety of designs inspired by the great outdoors, with names such as Seafoam, Granite Grey and Green Hills.
Lightweight and reflective, it can be quickly converted from 1.1m to 1.8m depending on how it will be used. It also has a handy accessory loop for poop bags, keys or other clip-on items that you’d prefer not to hold while on your daily dog walk.
Can be worn around the waist
Feels fairly flimsy
May be shorter than expected when worn around the waist
Length: Up to 1.8m
7. Best training dog lead: Halti Training Lead
Price: From £6.40 | Buy now from Amazon
“Get a Halti Training Lead. They have lots of clips, so you can change the length. We sometimes have two joined together for extra length.” (Rated by Mumsnet user LST)
“Another vote for Halti – it might be a fuss at first, but you will soon get the hang.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Evidencebased)
“Another vote for the Halti Training Lead. It’s so versatile and it’s really useful to be able to adjust the length.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user PeckyOwl)
While most standard longline leads are sufficient for recall training, Halti’s multifunctional Training Lead is top dog when it comes to teaching obedience. A firm favourite with dog trainers – professional or otherwise – the simple appearance of this hardwearing lead belies its array of functions.
Its length can be altered from short (for heel training or normal walking) to medium for obedience training and long for recall or distance work. Not just that: this water-resistant
lead can also be used hands-free or to walk two dogs at once. It can even be used to tether your pet.
Available in two widths and in black or red, this lead is suitable for all dogs and, at less than a tenner, it’s not to be sniffed at either.
Suitable for all dog breeds
Shorter than many longlines
No specific handle
8. Best slip dog lead: TagME Reflective Rope Slip Lead
Price: From £9.49 | Buy now from Amazon
“I have a Cavalier King Charles. I use a slip lead most of the time with her, which has massively stopped her pulling.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Glitterb)
“Ours walks much better on a slip lead – it’s what our trainer advised from day one.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Funf)
“I use a slip lead on my Lab-Springer cross because he’s gundog-trained and never pulls. The lead is just to keep him close on pavements or in crowds. It’s great because it’s easy to get on and I just hang it round my neck on walks.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Holyrivolli)
When your pet pulls like the Flying Scotsman, a slip lead could be the answer. Quick and convenient, it’s ultra-easy to put on and take off, with no fiddly clips to delay walkies.
This type of lead goes directly around your dog’s neck and tightens when pulled, thereby discouraging your pooch from doing so. Slip leads are a bone of contention in the canine sphere, however, and must be used correctly on more placid or trained dogs – not persistent pullers or lungers.
This one from TagME comes in three thicknesses, the largest of which can be used for dogs up to a whopping 100kg, and has a padded foam handle for comfort. Its cost is a small price to pay to avoid exasperating dragging – or possibly arm dislocation.
Quick and easy to use
Array of colour options
May be too long for everyday walking
Could be more durable
9. Best luxury dog lead: Barbour Tartan Dog Lead
Price: £20 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners
With its roots firmly in the British countryside but its products popular with both urbanites and rural-dwellers globally, UK brand Barbour has expanded far beyond selling the classic outdoor wear that springs to mind whenever we hear its name.
This luxurious, leather-lined dog lead features Barbour’s signature tartan print and brass-effect hardware for classic styling to posh-up your pooch. This leash is one for dog owners with deep pockets, but if its longevity is anywhere near that of the brand’s popular wax jackets, it’s likely to outlive your beloved canine companion … and possibly even their successor.
Quintessentially British design
10. Best dog lead for canicross: Arctic Wolf Lite Canicross Line
Price: £26.50 | Buy now from Amazon
“I run and use a canicross-strength bungee lead. It’s great and absorbs the sudden turns and pulls.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user StrongArm)
“I use a bungee lead occasionally with my Beagle. It takes the strength out of the pull and the bungee bit absorbs the shock. It really does reduce the amount of control you have over the dog, however. I use mine when we’re somewhere like the woods.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user icedcoffees)
Fitness fanatics who enjoy taking their pet on cross-country runs will appreciate this shock-absorbing canicross line from Arctic Wolf. Used around the waist or held by its handle, it’ll keep your dog close-by as you burn off energy while exploring forests, hilltops and coastal areas.
Designed specifically for activities away from crowds and pavements, the stretchy nature of this lead makes it unsuitable for busy locations where your dog needs to be under close control.
The line is primarily black, but comes with either red, purple, blue or fluorescent yellow detailing.
Ideal for countryside runs
Unsuitable for busy areas
Limited colour options
Length: 1.75m (unstretched) or 2m (stretched)
Is a dog lead better than a harness?
There are pros and cons to both leads and harnesses and which one you opt for ultimately depends on the size, age and temperament of your dog, as well as personal preference.
A dog lead is less restrictive for your pet than a harness and means that they’ll always sport an ID tag, attached to their collar, which can be left on at all times. This does place more tension on your dog’s neck than a harness, however, and there is also the risk that they could wriggle out of it if they are particularly feisty.
Harnesses reduce the likelihood of neck injury due to the pressure being more evenly distributed, but they are less convenient than dog leads and may take your dog a little getting used to.
Debate continues in the dog-owning world as to whether a harness encourages or discourages pulling, is more or less comfortable than a collar-lead combo, and whether or not it offers owners enhanced control.
Both leads and harnesses have their individual benefits and there is little doubt that one or the other is a vital accessory for guiding and controlling your pooch, as well as keeping it away from potential hazards. Neither is a substitute for adequate training, however, and both are suitable for a well-behaved dog.
How do I choose the best dog lead?
Dogs – like people – are all different and what may be ideal for one pet will be unsuitable for the next.
The type of dog lead you choose will depend on the energy levels and size of your faithful friend, as well as where you will be walking your pet. Your lead should be lightweight and the right length. A short lead is advisable in crowded spaces or near traffic, for instance, whereas a retractable or longer lead is more suited to rural, open areas.
Decide which features top your priority list – having a lead that’s hardwearing, reflective or easy to clean, for example – and choose one that’s the right thickness or width for the size and energy level of your dog.
Be sure to study the manufacturer’s description of your chosen lead before parting with your cash to ascertain the type and size of dog it’s aimed at.
What length lead is best?
A short lead of around 1m or 1.2m offers the best control of your pet (and the least likelihood of tangles) in crowded or high-traffic areas, while a longer one of between 1.5m and 1.8m is ideal when there are fewer people or obstacles around. Retractable models and longlines – which can be 20m in length – are best used when walking or training your dog in places where it’s safe for them to explore their surroundings.
Belababy’s 1.5m Medium Dog Leash is well worth considering if you’re unsure which lead to choose.
What is the best lead for dog training?
Halti’s Training Lead is just the job for training your furry buddy as it can be used in multiple ways and has a variety of uses, adjusting to different lengths and capable of being used hands-free or to walk two dogs. It lacks the length of a standard longline, however, such as Maximum Pet Products’ 20m Training Lunge Lead, which is the ideal alternative for recall training and allowing your pet to explore a little further.
What is the best dog lead?
The best dog lead is Belababy’s Medium Dog Leash. Strong, comfy to use and fairly priced, it’s easy to understand why this dual-handled lead frequently attracts dog owners, who report that it’s the perfect length for letting your pooch wander while you retain complete control.
Its second handle means there’s no need to wind the lead around your wrist when an extra-short length is required and the reflective stitching makes it easy to spot in the dark.
How we chose our recommendations
We first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which dog leads pet-owning Mumsnetters recommended and had bought themselves. We then drew up a shortlist of those that were repeatedly mentioned.
From there, we did some research across the wider web, consulting independent review sites and testimony from pet experts, as well as taking into account what customer reviews said about the products featured. Having collated all that information, we picked the dog leads we thought were worthy of taking the titles in an array of interest categories, each of which is best for different situations and needs.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.