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Choosing the Right Dog Leash

When it comes to the connection that matters most, Ruffwear goes all-out. Every dog leash we make is strong and reliable by design, built to enhance and celebrate the journeys you and your dog take together.

And because every dog-and-human duo is different, we’ve crafted a variety of leashes to choose from so you can find one that’s right for the paths ahead for you.

studio laydown of all new crag leash patterns

With the help of some Ruffwear dog-and-human duos, we’re here to help untangle the often-overwhelming world of dog leashes. Below is a quick-start guide to help highlight the types of things worth considering when finding your next leash followed by an in depth explanation of the various types of features worth considering when picking your leash.


Leashes all start with the same purpose: keeping you and your pup connected.

From there, different leashes can excel for certain applications based on factors like the activity, your preferences, your dog’s personality, and even your height and your dog's height.

Those are the things we consider when designing each of our leashes, and those are the things you get to consider when choosing one.

Marcus and Batman trail run in the LA foothills.


When choosing a leash length, make sure to account for your height, your dog’s height, and the space you want in between.

Depending on the height of both the dog and the human, a 2.5 ft (.79 m) leash can create vastly different experience than that of a 5 ft (1.5 m) leash, like Heather and Jackson with our Knot-a-Long™ on the left and the Knot-a-Leash™ on the right.

human and dog shown with both a short leash and a long leash

A single leash can also have different experiences for different duos. The same size medium Roamer™ Leash fits differently for Liz and Bernie (left) as it does for Travis and Atlas (right).

While it provides plenty of room and stretch for Liz and Bernie to run together, Travis and Atlas might need a little more room and opt for the longer size large Roamer™ Leash.

two sets of dog and human duos with the same leash

Looking to find the sweet spot for you and your dog? You can use a piece of string to play around with finding the optimal length for you and your dog, and then measure that. Or, opt for a leash with an adjustable length.

Shorter leashes help keep your dog closer in high-traffic zones, like crowded areas, shops, or busy streets. Our shortest leash, the Front Range Short Leash is also helpful in making quick transitions.

Top picks for short dog leashes:

Person hiking with dog on a short leash

Longer leashes offer extra room for your dog to roam or for your legs in full-stride activities like running. And adjustable leashes are great for flexing between different activities and needs.

Top picks for long dog leashes:

Top picks for mid-length dog leashes:

Last thing to note about leash length: Some leash laws specify a maximum leash length when out walking with your dog. 6 ft (1.8 m) is pretty common, but it's best to check regulations in your local area.

Two women hold hands while playing with their dog on-leash.


For a more interactive connection or a dog that needs a little guidance on leash, go hand-held. You'll be able to help direct or guide your dog a little easier.

Hands-free is great for freeing up your hands while running, hiking, or walking. Hands-free leashes are also great in the winter – they free your hands to stay warm in your pocket rather than exposed to the cold elements.

The other perk of a hands-free leash is you can still use it hand-held. The distance between you and your dog will be shorter when worn around the waist compared to using it hand-held, like Nate and Winston (left) and Liz and Bernie (right) demonstrate with the Flagline™ Leash.

two humans with their dogs: one holding a leash, one wearing a leash around the waist.


A static leash (no stretch) will give you a fixed length and a more responsive connection to your dog. If you need a bit more control over the connection between you and your dog, opt for static.

Some of our top-rated static leashes are the Front Range™ Leash, Crag™ Leash, Crag™ EX Leash (pictured below), and Hi & Light™ Leash.

Two women walk their dog on-leash with the Crag EX Leash.

A dynamic leash is a little more forgiving for the stop-and-sniffers and a smoother ride for the the dog and human. This is particularly nice when it comes to wearing a leash around your waist for hands-free running and hiking.

Check out the Roamer™ Bungee Leash (hands-free) and Trail Runner™ Leash (hand-held, pictured below).

two dogs and humans with a bungee leash


As you start to dig into our leashes, you'll spot different hardware on certain leashes.

close up of Crux Clip leash hardware

The Crux Clip™ is light, strong, and lockable, and it's our most low-profile leash connection hardware option. The smaller hardware is featured on some of our lighter leashes or wherever minimal bulk would be appreciated. A great option if you're looking for a lockable leash connection.

close up of Talon Clip leash hardware

The Talon Clip™ was originally designed by Ruffwear in response to difficulty in finding reliable bolt-snaps. The Talon Clip's lobster-claw like design is strong, durable, and easy-to-use and can be found on some of our most iconic leashes. It's a great option for a quick clip-and-go connection.

close up of carabiner leash hardware

The Carabiner: Our rope leashes feature strength-rated locking carabiners. Carabiners are known in the climbing world for their impressive strength. They're not exactly known for being ultralight, but to accommodate our smaller dog sidekicks, the size small in the Knot-a-Leash™ uses a smaller-sized locking carabiner.


Looking for a hands-free running leash? The Roamer™ Leash has bungee-like Wavelength™ webbing that absorbs shock, and the Flagline™ Leash is lightweight with some extra length.

Looking for an everyday walking leash? The Front Range™ Leash and Hi & Light™ Leash are both lightweight, strong, and a great mid-range length for everyday use. Bonus: they have matching harnesses and collars.

Looking for a hiking leash? The Crag™ Leash, Crag™ EX Leash and Switchbak™ Leash both have adjustability and versatility – not just in length, but in also using both hand-held and hands-free. They'll adapt to any trail ahead.

Looking for an off-leash leash? The Quick Draw™ Leash can be worn around your dog's collar when not in use, and the Patroller™ Leash can be worn around your waist when not in use, and the Front Range® Short Leash can be used for quick transitions.

Looking for a long line? The Hitch Hiker™ Leash is adjustable up to 12 ft (3.65 m).

Woman and dog walking on-leash in the woods

If you have more questions, our Customer Experience team is here to help. Let us know what you're looking for in a leash, and we can help you narrow down the search. Use the chat box in the lower right corner of this screen, or email