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Amid the plethora of dog walking paraphernalia that I’ve collected in my decades-long journey as a dog owner are many dog leashes, only a few of which rise to the level of being considered the best dog leash.
As with all pet products, so much of the dog leash buying decision is based on your individual dog and use case.
Beyond this, the concept of a hands-free dog leash sounds risky. Like a driverless car or pilotless airplane, a dog leash that is designed to be hands-free implies (mistakenly) that the dog is in control of the walk.
Whether you are looking for a hands-free dog leash or one that is more hands-on, this comprehensive guide will help you choose the best dog leash for your dog.
While Kurgo sent me the Quantum Leash 2.0 and a Duty Bag to test out for Junior and Sulley, they have not had a chance to preview my comments before publishing this full review for you here and on YouTube. As always, my product reviews are unbiased and fully transparent sharing the pros and the cons to help you make an informed buying decision if this is something you are considering for your dog.
Purpose of a Dog Leash
Freedom With Control
A dog leash allows your dog to have some degree of freedom on a walk but under your control.
They can take in scents around them, socialize with you or other people, and pee on as many bushes as they want, but a leash ensures that these fun activities are done within a perimeter of safety.
Let’s face it… dogs are dogs. Not humans. Your dog can react in ways you don’t expect and you can’t predict what another dog will do.
For this reason, a leash can keep your dog safe from danger posed by the environment (roads, cars, wildlife, etc), people, or other dogs.
No matter where you are walking your dog, you need to be able to have some degree of control over him. For his safety and yours and out of respect for those around you.
Compliance With Local Laws
Most states have dog leash laws, so you will want to be familiar with what the laws are where you live. For example, the law here in Michigan states:
“Michigan has strict dog bite and leash laws, preventing dogs from being off-leash while in public. Owners who violate this statute can be charged with a misdemeanor and fines up to $10,000.” (1)
Personal Injury Law Attorney
A dog leash is one of the most valuable tools when it comes to training your dog as it keeps the dog close for immediate feedback and reward.
So whether you are training loose leash manners or basic obedience skills like “come” or “sit,” having your dog on a long leash can give you control while allowing your dog the freedom to make her own decisions.
Remember, the reward means nothing to your dog unless she has the freedom to choose.
Different Types of Dog Leashes
Long Training Leash
An example of this would be a basic nylon lead with a clip for the dog on one end and a hand loop on the other. These will typically stretch to 20’ – 30’ or more.
A long leash like this would be used for training recall skills like “come” or “fetch” or for activities like scent training, mantrailing, or swimming.
Retractable Dog Leash
A retractable dog leash is rolled up inside a plastic grip handle that comes with a locking mechanism that allows you, at the click of a button, to stop the leash from retracting.
Due to their popularity, I am including the retractable dog leash on this list, however, I do NOT recommend you buy one or use one with your dog! I have a detailed answer below clearly delineating why.
Please read it and share this post with anyone you know who uses these detestable products.
Conformation Show Lead
While this is not a leash that is generally used for everyday walks, it is a very valuable tool for dog owners in the sport of conformation. Despite my experience in the show ring being limited, I found the show lead to be incredibly helpful in controlling where and how Junior was moving.
A very talented dog handler once told me, “Where the head goes, the rest will follow.”
With a show lead under the dog’s head, without much pressure, you can lead the dog gently where you want him to go. I still marvel at the power of such a ridiculously tiny leash being able to control a 230-pound dog with ease… but it does.
A slip lead can come in several different variations, but all are basically one piece of rope or nylon that loops over the dog’s head doubling as a leash AND a collar. I have several slip leads made of rope and I love them.
They are incredibly convenient when I need to move the dogs quickly, take them in and out of the vet, or simply assist them into the car.
Since my Mastiffs don’t wear collars around the house, I keep a couple of slip leads in my dog storage room and car for convenience.
Double Dog Leash or Leash Attachment
There are a few different reasons you may want to use a double dog leash or leash that has two clips.
First, and most obvious, if you want to walk two dogs at the same time a double dog leash or leash attachment (splitter) prevents the two leashes from getting entangled. The second use case is with a dog that pulls on a leash.
Many harnesses, like this one, come with two attachment points – one on the back and one at the front chest. A double dog leash allows you to clip at both attachment points for maximum control and feedback to your dog while training.
How to Pick the Right Leash for Your Dog
Laws in your area
I highly recommend doing a little research before purchasing a leash to make sure you are in compliance with your state and local laws.
For example, in Michigan, all dogs over 6 months old are required to be on a leash anytime they are off the owner’s property.
According to Michigan law, which can be found within Michigan MCL 287.262 (DOG LAW OF 1919 – Act 339 of 1919). no dog owner is allowed to have his or her dog stray in public unless leashed properly. (2)
Dog leashes come in a myriad of different materials. Most are nylon, leather, plastic, or rope (sometimes made of nylon) – all of which have their positives and negatives.
Leather tends to be the longest lasting, but needs to be maintained with a leather conditioner and is generally limited in lengths and widths available.
Nylon leashes will have more flexibility in terms of sizes, accessories, and versatility, however, they can break down faster with the nylon fraying over time.
Leather and rope will be the most comfortable in hand, so if your dog hasn’t learned to walk on a loose leash, you will want to consider that.
Your Dog’s size and strength
There is no dog leash that is one-size-fits-all, no matter what a manufacturer tells you. If you have a large or giant breed dog, you will want to err on the side of a thicker leash than a very lightweight, thin one.
If your dog has not learned polite loose leash manners yet, you will want to consider your own comfort and the strength of the leash if your dog pulls you.
Be mindful about the durability of the clips and stitching as well if you have a dog that pulls as these can be common points of failure on a poorly made leash.
Purpose – Use case
Lastly, consider what you want to use your dog leash for.
Are you looking for a leash to use in dog sports like nose work or mantrailing? Or do you simply want an everyday leash for walking your neighborhood? Do you want to be able to use it for multiple situations like hiking, walking, and running? Or is this a dedicated leash for one particular activity?
Your answers to these questions will determine what leash will be best for you and your dog.
Dog Leash Materials
Nylon is one of the most common materials used in dog leashes as it is inexpensive and has a multitude of benefits. It is lightweight, heat and fire-resistant, fade-resistant, and if it is waterproofed, stands up well in the rain and snow.
Nylon leashes come in a wide variety of sizes and customizations for nearly every dog sport there is. And because they are very inexpensive, nylon leashes are a great fit for nearly all dog homes.
If you are looking for a soft and durable dog leash that will last a lifetime, a leather leash may be a great choice. While they can be somewhat limited in their options and slightly more expensive to purchase, a high-quality leather dog leash will last you forever.
I purchased the one I have over 14 years ago and it’s still in like-new condition!
Most leather leashes will come in the standard size of 6 ft with minimal feathers – typically a clip on one end for the dog and a handle on the other for you. With proper maintenance, a leather leash will never let you down and will get the job done.
Retractable dog leashes are made up of a plastic handle surrounding a wound-up roll of nylon tape.
The plastic housing for the nylon tape is built with comfort in mind and usually comes with a soft grip handle – no doubt a selling feature that attracts many uninformed dog owners.
While retractable leashes come in many variations, they all include a locking mechanism that allows a dog owner to, at the push of a button, stop their dog from pulling or extending the leash further.
I do NOT recommend retractable leashes at all for any reason for any dog owner. Please read below a few of my reasons why.
A critical component of any dog leash is the clip that fastens to your dog’s collar or harness.
Most dog leash clips are made of metal, but I’ve seen some plastic or cheaply made metal ones that do not last.
Just pay attention to the clip when you are purchasing your leash and look for a very strong metal that will not accidentally come apart when your dog pulls.
Consider a heavy-duty clip that requires two fingers to unclasp instead of the traditional clip that only requires a thumb to undue, especially if you have a dog with aggression or reactivity issues where a failure of the clip would pose serious harm to others around you.
Carabiners are often used on dog leashes to quickly attach two sections together. They are made with either spring-loaded gates or a screw-locking mechanism.
Carabiners are terrific as they are quite sturdy and quick to maneuver, but beware of cheap metal or faulty springs as this can be a possible failure point on the leash if not made well.
Dog Leash Safety – 5 Tips
While not a flashy subject, dog leash safety is incredibly important. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 2000 – 2020 there were 429,256 estimated dog-leash-related injuries due to trips, tangles, pulls, and other causes. (3)
The most common injuries were fractures, strain or sprain, or contusion, usually from the leash breaking. And these are only accounting for injuries to the human, not the dog.
With this said, here are 5 tips for safely using a dog leash that can reduce the risk of injury for you or your beloved dog.
1. Supervise Your Dog
Never keep your dog on a leash and/or collar when not supervised to avoid entanglement or strangulation. If you have the ability to tether your dog using your leash, only do so temporarily and under constant supervision.
2. Do NOT Use a Retractable Dog Leash
Retractable dog leashes present a real and present danger to both dogs and humans and, as such, I do not recommend them.
Read my detailed explanation below for more on why.
3. Replace Don’t ReUse Worn Leashes
If your leash is starting to fray or split or the clip is not working as well as it did when it was new, it is time for you to invest in a new leash.
One of the most common causes of dog leash injuries is the result of the leash breaking. You can prevent this by simply doing a quick inspection each time you use your leash to make sure every inch of it is mechanically sound and solidly secure. If it is not, please replace it!
There is a terrific option reviewed below if you are in the market for a new leash!
4. Short Leash Benefits
There are many times when a shorter (4 ft to 6 ft) leash is safer than a longer length one. For example, if you are walking in a crowded area where there are lots of people and other dogs, you should avoid allowing your dog to be too far from you and, as a consequence, less able to control.
The more control you have, the safer you and your dog will be.
5. Prioritize Training Loose Leash Manners
If your dog can learn to walk on a loose leash at all times it will reduce the potential for injury exponentially for both you and him.
This training is not hard, but it will take time and patience. If you would like more information on how to go about starting loose leash walking, click here.
Kurgo Quantum Leash 2.0 Review
Now that you have a foundational understanding of how to choose the best dog leash for your dog, let’s spend some time reviewing one that I believe is a great fit for most families.
The Kurgo Quantum Leash 2.0 is a dog-walking tool that promises to provide functionality with maximum versatility for any busy dog owner.
Whether you want to run, hike, or simply take your dog to the park for a picnic, the Quantum Leash allows you to do all three with a simple position change and a clip while keeping you in charge.
But, as with all products we review, this ingenious dog leash is not without its drawbacks.
Let’s dive into the results of our testing after using the Quantum Leash 2.0 for several weeks with two Mastiffs.
One of the most unique features of this dog leash is that it can be positioned or used in 6 different configurations to meet your individual needs.
VIDEO: BEST Dog Leash? My Honest Review of the Kurgo Quantum 6-in-1 Leash For Dogs | LEASH BUYING GUIDE
6-in-1 Dog Leash Features
1. 6 ft. Dog Leash
The most basic use of the Quantum Leash is fully extended as a 6 ft. dog leash. Simply clip the carabiner to one of the closest loops to form a hand loop and you’re ready to go. The leash extends up to 72”.
2. 3 ft Training Leash
If you are looking for a shorter lead, you can clip the carabiner to any one of the loops to shorten the length of the leash. Simply clip the carabiner nearest the dog’s collar the length will be approximately 3 ft.
This length is terrific for walks in very populated areas, at the veterinarian when you want to keep your dog a little closer, or on a hike in dense brush, for example.
3. Hands-Free Over-the-Shoulder Dog Leash
This is one of my favorite ways to use the Kurgo Quantum Leash as it provides me maximum freedom with the ability to easily grab the leash if my dog pulls ahead of me.
Simply clip the leash to the dog and wrap the leash up and around so it sits on your shoulder and attach the carabiner to one of the nylon loops at your waist.
Whether you are on a hike, taking a casual walk in your neighborhood, or traveling through the city streets, the hands-free crossbody leash configuration is perfect for a dog with solid loose leash manners. It allows you to push a stroller, answer a phone call, or carry your mail all while giving your dog his much-needed exercise.
4. Hands-Free Around-the-Waist Dog Leash
If you are a runner, this leash configuration is for you! Simply wrap the leash around your waist and attach the carabiner to the nylon loop that feels comfortable but tight enough that it won’t slip down while you run.
5. Double Dog Walker
The Kurgo Quantum Leash can easily be configured to walk two dogs at the same time without the need for a splitter or other attachment. Using the clip on one end and the carabiner on the other, attach the ends to each dog and hold in the middle between the two dogs.
With two dogs that have great loose leash manners, this configuration is incredibly handy!
6. Easy Tether
If you are somewhere where you just need to tether your dog temporarily, you just loop the carabiner end around a fixed object and clip it to one of the closest nylon loops.
There are so many scenarios where this configuration would be useful – a picnic, camping or traveling, or even at home with guests that need time to warm up to your dog, just to name a few.
Hands-Free Dog Leash Pros and Cons
As with any pet product, there will always be pros and cons – features we love and quirks we don’t. The following list is based on my individual dogs and experience using the Kurgo Quantum Leash 2.0:
Kurgo Duty Bag – A Hands-Free Dog Poop Solution
While considered a leash accessory on the Kurgo website, I found the Duty Bag so helpful I would consider it a must-have.
With two velcro straps that hug the leash, a sturdy clip that fastens it to the leash from the front, and two hooks on the bottom to hold used bags, the Kurgo Duty Bag is invaluable in its convenience and practicality.
On runs or long walks, you could easily store treats in the zippered pouch and hook two empty poop bags to the bottom. In this way, the Duty Bag doubles as a treat pouch as well, which is terrific for training and reinforcement.
Kurgo Quantum Leash 2.0 Review
Is the Kurgo Quantum Leash the best dog leash on the market? Let’s see how well it performed in our testing with two Mastiffs.
Quality – 4.5
I was very impressed with the quality of the Kurgo Quantum Leash 2.0. The clip and carabiner are of high-quality metal and the nylon and reflective tape were solid with secure stitching throughout. The quality of the Duty Bag was outstanding!
Unfortunately, while both products are designed in the USA, they are manufactured in China for which I am deducting half a point.
Durability – 4
In my testing, I didn’t have any issues with the Quantum Leash 2.0 and I was impressed with its quality construction overall.
That said, I did come across some reviews of the other version of the Quantum Leash that mentioned fraying of the nylon and some issues with the hand grip cushioning around the carabiner. The Quantum Leash 2.0 doesn’t have this cushioning strip so I cannot speak to how well it would hold up.
The Kurgo 6-in-1 Dog Leash is an exceptional value! You are essentially getting 6 dog leashes for a price point of $29.95!
Drool Score – 4.5
My drool score is a determination of how well I and my two Mastiffs like a product in testing. For them, the grade on the Quantum Leash 2.0 was an easy 5 out of 5! They absolutely loved it!
Sulley loved being able to run with me and enjoyed the faster, more free pace using the hands-free configurations. Junior enjoyed a more casual pace and being able to walk next to Sulley when we tried out the double dog configuration.
Yet, while I thoroughly enjoyed using the Quantum Leash, I did find the lack of a dedicated handle in the double dog configuration a little confusing and uncomfortable. It is for this reason, that I am deducting half a point.
Is the Kurgo 6-in-1 Dog Leash the Best Dog Leash?
Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this leash and can comfortably recommend it without hesitation to most dog owners.
Have you used this leash before? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
As I receive questions about the Kurgo Quantum Leash or dog leashes in general I will update this FAQ section.