What Leash Length is Best For Your Dog?

Close-Up Of Dog Looking Away At Park
credit: Brendan Wahl / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Before we launch into this leash length business, let's address the most important leash decision first: design. Ideally, there are bones or paw prints on it, something that says "I'm walking a dog here." Once you select your motif, then you can begin to look at the length of your pup's leash.

The leash length has a bit to do with what kind of dog you have, but it's mostly about the environment. If you're not sure which leash length is right for you and your dog, rest easy. We've got the long and short of it right here for you.

Leash lengths

The length of a dog leash can vary depending on the manufacturer, but they typically come in three different sizes:

Short: These leashes are usually four feet long or less. Sometimes they're called "city leashes" for obvious reasons. You would want a shorter leash on a crowded city street.

Standard: These leashes are standard six feet leashes. It has a basic looped handle and clasp and is the most common length.

Long: These leashes are 30 feet or longer and are primarily used for dog training.

small dog on a leash in sunbeams
credit: STOWEN SETO/iStock/GettyImages

We'll be diving into these three length options, but one other type of leash should be mentioned before we begin, and that's the retractable leash. These leashes have a bit of controversy surrounding them. While it's great from some dogs, it can be highly problematic for others. Veterinarians caution that retractable leashes could teach your pup to pull. But a far greater concern is that there isn't much control with this leash, and that can harm you, your dog, and other dogs. The trouble comes when owners can't lock the retracting mechanism fast enough when their dog runs towards traffic, another dog, or people. The thin cord and plastic retracting mechanism can also break and cause injuries.

Two French Bulldogs on leashes
credit: redonion1515/iStock/GettyImages

Short leash

Short dog leashes give you the most control of all the leash length options. This is a good starter leash if you are just beginning to train your pup. It's also a helpful length if your dog is a puller or is unpredictable around other dogs or people. Short leashes are ideal in a crowded city. Not only will it give you peace of mind that your dog is close to you and you have immediate control over him, it will also make your pup feel safer.

Morning walk with dog in London
credit: LeoPatrizi/E+/GettyImages

Standard leash

This 6-foot leash is often the choice for dog owners whose dog walks well on a lead. It's a nice combination of control but also gives your pup some room to roam. They can be made of nylon, rope or leather, and it's probably a smart idea to have some sort of reflective material on it for your evening and early morning walks. This is an excellent leash for walking in a quiet neighborhood, or on a slightly populated hike.

Little dog with head tilt looking at camera in a beautiful setting
credit: Sandy L Smith/iStock/GettyImages

Long leash

Long leashes are used for training. It allows you to work on commands such as 'come,' 'leave it,' 'sit,' and 'stay' from a further distance than just the width of your living room. It's good to practice these commands outside with distraction and the long leash can serve as training wheels in case a squirrel steals their focus. These leashes can also be a gateway to off-leash freedom. It allows them to explore without constraint, while still keeping them safe. A word of caution with these super long leashes, your dog should be highly trained in controlled situations before you walk him on a long lead.

Bernese Mountain Dog
credit: Laura Fay/iStock/GettyImages

Conclusion

The leash length you need will vary depending on your lifestyle, and what you're trying to accomplish. For most people, the standard length of 6 feet will suffice. However, if you live in a city, you might want to go with a short leash, and if you're in a larger space and trying to train your dog, you might consider a long leash.