How to Choose the Best Leash for Dogs

Guide to Choosing the Best Leash - Mendota Pet

Here at Mendota Pet, we offer a very large selection of leashes, collars, healthcare supplements and skin care for pets. We understand it can be overwhelming to select the best leash or collar for your dog! 

Before you select the best leash for your dog, there are some things you need to consider. 

Four Considerations of Choosing Dog Leash

Always think about these four main factors of choosing a dog lead: 

  • Length
  • Width
  • Design
  • Function

Choosing the Best Leash Length

When selecting a lead length, choose one that is specific to your task. These are the more common lead lengths that Mendota Pet offers:

1 - 1 ½’ Leads

The traffic lead is a very short lead (between 12”-18” long) designed to help you keep your dog close to you at all times.

This is an ideal lead for handling your service animal, walking your dog in the city, at crowded events, or to use during training. This is also a favorite lead for those who are working with large dogs and dogs who tend to bolt from cars or doors. It’s simple to reach down and grab the lead.

4' Leads

The 4’ lead is ideal for those who prefer to keep their dogs on a shorter leash, which can be very important in the city or at large events. A shorter lead helps to avoid entangling others while walking in congested areas or if you’re walking a newly trained dog.

6' Lead

The 6’ lead is ideal for everyday walking and is the most common length we sell. This length allows plenty of area to explore, but still keeps your dog in check. 

8' - 15' Lead

If you are planning to do any hiking, camping, or field work with your dog, this is the lead that will allow you the most flexibility.

This length allows you to drape the leash around your waist or over shoulder for the hands-free walking.

This multi-purpose leash length also allows plenty of room for exploration while making sure your dog is under control. If you’re working on training “stay” or “come” in a yard or home, this is the ideal lead to show your dog the way! 

15' - 150' Leads

Long Lines” or “Check Cords” are a favorite for those who need control over their dog in the field.

These are ideal leashes to use for field training, teaching “come”, “stay”, etc. and even for socialization in a crowded environment, etc. It gives you control over a dog from a distance, while keeping leash-reactive dogs in check.

Watch how Tripp adjusts to the check cord at Dogs Unlimited, LLC!

Choosing the Correct Width of Leash

Our leashes are available in leather, cotton, or durable long-lasting multi-filament polypropylene rope. Each of these offers a long list of benefits depending on your lifestyle.

Polypropylene Rope

Mendota leashes are all handmade in the USA and this allows us a tight quality control. Our multifilament polypropylene rope leashes are incredibly soft on your hands while ensuring control over your pets.

This material is waterproof and machine-washable, and incredibly comfortable to hold.

For those who spend their days in the field, polypropylene is an ideal option for duck hunters as the rope tends to float. It’s water-resistant, lightweight, UV-resistant and available in a large range of colors.

Since the rope is dielectric, it acts as an insulator and will not conduct electricity should it ever touch a live wire.

Polypropylene leashes will return to normal size if they are ever stretched and will not fade, fray or decay. 


Mendota leather leads are ideal for those who spend time in the show ring or the field. They are durable, reliable for strong pullers, and will last forever when cared for properly. These leads may be a bit stiff when you first start using them, but with frequent use and oiling, they will become soft and pliable - and offer lifetime of use!

Synthetic DuraSoft

DuraSoft Imitation leather is a great alternative material for those who prefer a “do no harm” mantra. This material is a polyurethane coated nylon that is odor-resistant, water-resistant, mildew-resistant, and bacteria-resistant. It resembles leather leashes and is ideal for maintenance free daily wear.


These lightweight leashes are designed specifically with the smallest of dogs and cats in mind! These are also excellent choices for chewing puppies, as nylon is difficult (but not impossible) to chew through.

Nylon is a great alternative for well-trained dogs, particularly those in the show ring. Our petite range is lightweight, washable available in ⅛” width and ready for your pets!

Choosing the Right Diameter of Leash

Choosing the right size for your pet is important. While a puppy may only need a ⅜” width, a larger shepherd or husky will require a much larger width (between ½” to 1”) in order to avoid breaking it.

⅛” width

Show dogs love these delicate leads that are lightweight and ideal for showing your pet to perfection in the ring. 

⅜” width

The 3/8" width is perfect for dogs under 50 lbs or those who are young and relaxed. 

½” width 

The ½” width is ideal for dogs over 50 lbs

Choosing the Best Type of Lead for Your Dog

Snap Leads

Standard leads range in length from 1-foot (usually referred to as “traffic” leads) to lengths of up to 8-feet. They are usually made from rope, nylon or leather and are easy to use - simply attach the end to your dog’s collar.

When selecting a standard leash, pay attention to more than just looks. Leashes should be well-designed and guaranteed not to break. They should feel soft and your hands, without too much slip, and be easy to secure to your dog’s collar or harness.

Standard leashes are the ideal leash for walks in the neighborhood or countryside. They allow your dog a bit of freedom to sniff, without losing control.

Snap leads are great options for “hands-free” leashes. Make sure your dog is not prone to lunging or weaving around your legs since they could easily trip you. Check our leather Jaeger lead or our 8’-15’ snap leads for hands-free use.

Slip Leads

Slip leads are a leash and collar in one! Adjustable slip leads are excellent for dogs who are prone to slipping their collars or animals who need quick access to freedom due to specific activities (such as show dogs, hunting, animal rescue or dog sports).

The slip lead is also ideal for strong pullers and dogs that tend to bite at leashes or collars.

Choose a slip lead that is comfortable for you and your dog, sized properly, and features stop gaps (such as our distinguished leather stop) to make sure your pets stay safe and secured.

Slip leads should fit just behind your dog’s head, behind the ears. This video demonstrates how to use a slip lead. If your dog is walking on your right, form a number 9 with the loop. If your dog is walking on your left, form a letter P with the lead.

Martingale Lead

This simple design helps you secure your dog without having choking or applying pressure on the neck, making it a great alternative to a slip lead. Whereas a slip lead applies pressure to the dog’s throat area, a martingale helps keep pressure steady around the entire neck.

No matter which type of leash you choose, be sure it’s appropriate for you and your dog.

Remember - keep your friends close and your best friends closer!