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What type of Retractable Dog Lead to buy?

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

A retractable dog lead is a type of lead that has a reel mechanism inside the handle, which allows the lead to extend and retract. This means that you can adjust the length of the lead based on your surroundings and your dog's behaviour.

There are two main types of retractable dog leads - tape leads and cord leads. What type of retractable lead to buy? Let's take a closer look at each one.

Tape Leads

Tape leads are made from flat, ribbon-like material, and are typically wider than cord leads. They are often referred to as "ribbon" leads or "belt" leads. The tape is usually made from nylon or polyester, and can be up to one inch wide.

Benefits of Tape Leads:

  • Wide tape is more visible, making it easier for other people to see your dog

  • The wider tape can be more comfortable for your dog to wear, as it distributes the pressure more evenly across the body

  • The flat material is less likely to tangle than cord material

Cord Leads

Cord leads are made from thin, braided rope-like material, and are typically narrower than tape leads. The cord is usually made from nylon, polyester or cotton, and can be up to half an inch thick.

Some potential disadvantages of cord-type retractable dog leads include:

  • Cord-type retractable leads can pose a higher risk of accidents than tape-type leads because the thin cord can easily wrap around objects, causing injury to the dog or the handler

  • Cord-type leads tend to be thinner and less sturdy than tape-type leads, they may be more difficult to control, especially with larger and stronger dogs

  • Cord-type leads are less visible than tape-type leads, which can be a safety issue, especially in low-light conditions. It is also difficult to clean and may harbour dirt, bacteria, or other debris, leading to hygiene issues and potential health risks


Tape leads

Cord leads


Made of a strong, wide nylon material that withstands wear and tear well

Made of thin cord, which is more prone to fraying and breaking


Often brightly coloured and reflective, making them highly visible

​Can be difficult to see, especially in low-light conditions


​Easy to grip and control, making them good for dogs who pull

​Can be harder to grip and control, especially with larger or stronger dogs


​Easier to clean and less likely to harbour dirt and bacteria

Can be harder to clean and may harbour bacteria and debris

Range of motion

​Often have a longer range of motion, giving dogs more freedom to explore and roam

​May have a shorter range of motion, limiting dogs' exploration

Tangle risk

​Less prone to tangling, making them easier to use

​More prone to tangling, which can cause frustration for both the dog and owner


​Best for larger dogs or those who pull, and for use in open spaces

​Best for smaller dogs and those who do not pull, and for use in controlled environments

Which extendable lead is safer?

Both tape and cord leads can be safe, as long as they are used properly. There are some safety considerations to keep in mind when choosing a retractable dog lead. General opinion is that the tape design has been complemented the drawbacks of the rope type therefore it is considered to be the safest option overall.

Follow out other blogpost to learn not only the Essentials on How to Use a Retractable Dog Lead but learn a few key points to make that lead work you last longer.

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