The 6 Best Retractable Dog Leads: Tested & Evaluated 2023
Finding the best lead (or a couple of them) is an essential part of every pet parent’s equipment. However, finding one that works perfectly can be a surprisingly difficult task. This is especially true when it comes to retractable leads.
Today’s Retractable Dog Leads Australia guide will help you find the perfect option for your canine companion. So what makes us such pros? To ensure we guided you well, we teamed up with veterinarians, dog parents, and professional canine trainers to form a panel of independent experts. Together, we tested some of the most popular retractable dog leads out there.
And what we learnt surprised even us! After months of research and several dozen leads later, we finally agreed on the list of our favourites below. First, we'll discuss how to find the perfect retractable lead for your dog and determine what makes them safe choices.
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
DogNation Retractable Dog Leash Reflective
- Strong hardware
- Reflective tape for night time safety
- Available in different lengths (up to 8 metres)
- Good value for money
- Tangle free
Runner Up -
Flexi New Comfort Tape
- Suitable for dogs up to 60 kg
- Soft grip handle for comfort
- Flawless retracting mechanism
- Strong braking system
- Available in different sizes and colours
Third Choice -
SlowTon Retractable Dog Leash
- Very lightweight
- The reflective colour is visible in low light conditions
- Stainless steel mechanism prevents tangles
Australia's Best Retractable Dog Leads Reviewed
Now that we know what to look for, it’s time for the fun part! Below is a list of awesome retractable dog leads for every type of dog, as handpicked by our team of independent experts. These are the leashes that were effective, kept our dogs safe, and can suit just about any budget.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
"The Dog Nation Retractable Dog Leash was an easy choice in a crowded lineup. Satisfying our key parameters, including made from qualify materials, including safety mechanisms and affordability."
What does one want from a good retractable dog lead? Well, first of all, it should work well. It should be strong enough to hold your dog, and it should retract every time you want it without mistake.
Well, that’s exactly what this lead from DogNation will do. Fairly lightweight and simple looking at first sight, the mechanism inside this lead seems to be flawless. The problem with many low-quality retractable leads is that they tend to get all tangled up, usually in the worst possible situation. Well, this won’t ever happen with the DogNation retractable lead.
Instead of tape, this lead is made with cord which is flexible and strong at the same time. The best part: the cord will retract right back no matter what you do with it. In fact, every member of our testing panel agreed that it’s pretty much impossible for it to get stuck.
Another great thing about this lead is that it’s reflective. While the biggest part of the leash is cord (in a bright colour too), the part that attaches to your dog’s collar or harness is made from strong reflective tape.
The only downside: this lead is made only for dogs who don’t weigh more than 10 kg. So if you're the proud owner of a larger breed, you'll have to check out some of our other choices ahead (such as our number two or number five choices!).
In terms of colour, you can choose between neon orange and neon green. In addition to this, I loved how you can also pick the length that suits your needs the best: 3 metres, 5 metres, or 8 metres. Overall, it’s a great choice for every pet parent.
With 50 years of experience, and products available in almost every country in the world, Flexi is often credited as the original retractable dog lead. While their original line of dog leads was already known for its quality, the “New Comfort” line from Flexi brings retractable leads to the next level.
What’s new about the comfort line is the ergonomic design of the handle enhanced with a soft grip. Our panel of independent experts raved about this since it is a feature that makes the walks more comfortable for you.
Other than that, the Flexi New Comfort Tape lead is quite similar to all of their products. The leash is made of strong tape, setting it apart from our number one choice that uses rope. And there is a clever mechanism that prevents the tape from getting stuck when you want to retract the leash.
There is also a fairly strong braking system to ensure safety. In fact, Flexi is so confident in the strength of their leads that they rated this lead safe for dogs up to 60 kg. If your dog is on the larger side, this is good news.
Last but perhaps not least, Flexi also lets you customise your lead with accessories according to your needs. You can add the Multi Box that can be used to store poop bags, treats, or any other small items. You can also add the Flexi LED Lighting System which clips onto your lead effortlessly and turns it into a flashlight.
Considering that a bunch of parts go into making a retractable dog leash, it’s no wonder these dog walking tools cost a bit more and are sometimes heavy. But that’s not always the case. There are some pretty affordable options available, like this dog leash by SlowTon.
The product is designed to withstand the force of a dog weighing up to 20 kg. This makes it great for small to medium breeds and an in-between choice when compared to our number one and number two options.
Moreover, its ergonomic handle grip design has an internal cozy cushion that assured my hands stayed callus-free, no matter how hard my pooch might pull.
The leash case is made of non-toxic, corrosion-resistant ABS+TPE plastic, which is highly-durable. The mechanism is stainless steel and the leash tape is made of polyester. It’s 5 m long, so your pooch can sniff around without you having to come up close to any tree.
Overall, this is a sturdy extendable dog leash for an affordable price, and the only thing you might not like about it is the colour. It only comes in a black and pink colour combination, which was a tad too girly for the rugged boy pooches on our team of independent experts.
Do you hate when you buy your pooch a new accessory, and then you see other dogs around the block sporting the same thing? This is not that likely to happen if you buy a product with plenty of colour options, like this leash by TUG.
This retractable leash comes in 7 colour options and sizes ranging from Tiny to Large. As long as your canine companion weighs less than 50 kg, this leash is a great option for you. Aside from the Tiny version, which is 3 m long, all the other sizes feature a 5 m long tape leash, similar to our number three choice. This means your pooch has plenty of room to walk around.
The retraction opening features a double tooth, which allows the tape leash to rotate for 360 degrees without getting tangled. So no matter how excited and bouncy your dog might get at times, the one thing you don’t have to worry about is the leash becoming a tangled mess.
Every large pooch pet parent knows the struggle of finding dog accessories in the appropriate size. Retractable dog leashes are no different since most are designed for small to medium dogs. But every once in a while, you might find retractable leads for large dogs, like this one by Alcott.
This product is designed to withstand the force of a gentle giant up to 68 kg. This means that even a Great Dane can enjoy the perks of free movement. What’s more, this retractable leash is 7 m long, making it longer than our number three and number four choices, so your pooch has plenty of space to sniff around.
Considering you’re walking a big dog, the leash needs to be comfortable in hand. With this leash, that’s assured. Its super-soft grip handle did a great job at preventing calluses on my hands.
The leash comes in two colours: blue and black. Every member of our expert panel also loved how each lead features a reflective belt that makes your canine companion visible when you’re walking around the block at night.
Depending on where you live, there might not be a lot of designated off lead areas close to you. If that’s the case, a retractable leash might be the only thing that will allow your pooch some freedom of movement. Especially if you go for a long one, like this model by Ditsli.
This retractable leash gives your canine friend up to 8 m to roam around, which is 3 m longer than the standard models on the market. That’s plenty of space, but keep in mind that controlling a puller on a lead that long is extremely hard.
If you’re still struggling with walking your dog on a retractable leash without tension, our team of testers say that this one is not for you.
The leash is designed with a strong anti-pull capability and it’s suitable for small to medium dogs under 50 kg. The handle features an ergonomic anti-slip handle which helps you maintain a strong grip even if your pooch starts pulling.
The leash is made of nylon rope for the most part. This design is great because the rope can’t get tangled inside the leash body. But it can hurt your pooch if it gets wrapped around their legs.
For safety reasons, the first metre of the leash is made of nylon tape, which is forgiving in terms of cuts and bruises. What’s more, it’s much more resistant to chewing than the rope. The dual-style of this lead makes it a more unique option than the other leashes on this list.
What I Look for in a Retractable Dog Lead?
How do you even find the perfect retractable lead for your beloved pooch? Here is what our independent team of experts think are the most important features to consider.
Safety & Reliability
First of all, if a retractable dog leash is going to be effective, it simply needs to work well. That means the retracting system should be well-made so the lead doesn’t get tangled, and it should be strong enough to withstand the pull of your dog. Even if your dog is usually well behaved, if an unexpected situation comes around, you’ll want your lead to hold.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know how well a retractable lead will work without trying it out in person, so it’s best to stick to reputable manufacturers with lots of positive reviews.
The part that you can control is checking the recommended weight of the leash. You always want to make sure that the retractable lead can withstand the weight of your dog. For example, some leads are recommended only for dogs up to 10 kg, so if your dog is larger, you want a stronger lead.
Retractable leads come in various lengths, generally between 3 metres and 8 metres. Which length should you choose? Well, there are no hard and fast rules about that. It will mostly depend on your dog and the activities you do together.
For example, you probably need a 3 metre lead for walks in the dog park, but if you are roaming around on an empty hiking trail and want your canine companion to have as much freedom as possible without going off-leash, then 8 metres is a good length.
Related: Best Long Dog Leads.
Cord or Tape?
If you look at the retractable leads below, you’ll notice that on some of them the leash is basically a long tape, while others use cord instead of tape. So what’s the difference?
Well, first of all, tape is more likely to get stuck when retracting than cord. However, quality retractable leads do have mechanisms that prevent tangling fairly well. On the other hand, the wider tape is much more comfortable to grab when necessary.
Are Retractable Leads Safe?
If you have any interest in dog training, you’ve probably already heard someone complaining about retractable leashes.
“We don’t even have to discuss emergency situations to get most trainers to chime in about how useless these tools are. They more or less train dogs to pull against pressure, by rewarding/reinforcing the dog when he pulls against the product’s spring (there is always some tension, even when the operator isn’t pressing the lock button) in order to reach something he wants to investigate. Getting to sniff something he was curious about is a reward – and behaviours that are rewarded get repeated. Simple as that.” - Nancy Kerns from Whole Dog Magazine. (1)
DogTime framed the issue in an even more dramatic way with an article titled “Retractable Leashes: Dangerous And Deadly For Dogs And Humans” (2). So does that mean that a well intentioned pet parent should never use a retractable lead? Well, not necessarily.
A more useful way of framing the problem is by saying that retractable leashes are not meant for leash training. However, our experts share that there are situations where they can be a great solution (3).
Retractable leads can work great for well behaved dogs who have already learned recall. In other words, a retractable leash is not a tool you should use to retract your dog, no matter how small.
Dragging the dog back to you can indeed cause injuries. However, if your canine companion comes back on their own when called, a retractable leash is a great way to give your dog more freedom when walking off lead is not an option, but you require a more compact solution to a long lead.
My Final Verdict
When choosing a retractable lead, it’s important to pick a quality product. After all, no one wants to buy a lead that will break within a couple of days. The DogNation Retractable Dog Leash is our team of independent experts' favourite option for smaller dogs. It works well, it’s reflective, and you can choose the length you want. If you are looking for a long retractable dog leash, you’ll be happy to learn that there is an 8 meter long option.
Unfortunately, the DogNation Lead was not made for larger dogs. If your canine companion is on the larger side, we recommend you go with the tried-and-true Flexi dog lead.
If you ask a dog trainer or simply do a quick Google search, you’ll soon encounter warnings about retractable leads and lead training (we have referenced some articles below as well). The truth is, teaching a dog to walk only with a retractable lead will most likely teach them to pull. Just think about it - if you don’t use the stopping function excessively, the retractable lead will always have some tension (which is how these leads are supposed to work, after all).
However, from the dog’s perspective, this sends a message that they just need to pull harder if they want to go farther. The nuances of retractable leads are not so easy to explain to canines, which is why they are only recommended for dogs who already understand walking on a lead as well as recall.
There is no official recommended length - it all depends on your needs. While in most everyday situations 3 metres will suffice, if there is lots of open space for your dog to explore on your walks, you’ll probably want a lead that’s longer. Eight metres is usually the longest option.
While most dog leads essentially look the same, it’s important to check the dog weight recommendations. You want a lead that is strong enough to stop your dog when necessary, and you can’t know how strong a mechanism is just by looking at the lead from the outside.
- Kerns, N. March 21, 2019. “Reel It In – Why I Don’t Like Retractable Leashes”. Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2023. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/blog/reel-it-in-why-i-dont-like-retractable-leashes/
- Clinebell, V. June 24, 2019. “Retractable Leashes: Dangerous And Deadly For Dogs And Humans”. DogTime. Retrieved May 29, 2023. https://dogtime.com/how-to/pet-safety/33069-retractable-leashes-dangerous-deadly-dogs-humans
- Xu, E. November 14, 2016. “Retractable Leashes: Are They Dangerous?”. PetMD. Retrieved May 29 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/retractable-leashes-are-they-dangerous