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Understanding Flat Leashes – Breaking Leashes Down By Their Components


Whether you call it a Leash or a Lead, they’re a really important part of your kit when walking your dog, often underestimated in their importance.

Leashes are a legal requirement in some places, and they are a very powerful tool (often underestimated in value) to ensure your dog stays safe, and in the right place.

But a bad one? Can cause a lot of problems.

I know that story! I used a lunge line (built for horses, by the way) and the clip attached to Indie’s harness snapped. Yep. Mortified as he ran across the field to deal with the source of his fear… luckily he was wearing a muzzle!

So, the moral of the story is that we rely on our leashes more than we think – so understanding them, their materials, components etc is incredibly important.

I learnt my lesson, and now (as always!) I’m here to help you.

There are three main factors in deciding your leash choice (at least functionally!), Length, Material & the clip style, beyond that? It’s a case of style – and that one is totally down to you! So let’s dig into the juicy bits!

Why Is It Called a Flat Leash?

It comes from the fact that these leashes were flat leather as opposed to braided or similar. However now it comes in as a ‘catch all’ for any leash that isn’t or doesn’t stretch.

Leash Length

Leashes come in pretty much all lengths, from six inches to sixty foot, but the important part is finding the right length for the right job. For example, a 60ft leash is totally inappropriate for a street walk, a 4ft leash is not ideal for tracking.

Commonly though?
Long lines, the longer the better, and walking leashes? I love a 6ft leash and ideally one with a traffic handle (seen as I have big dogs).

Materials

a mix of leashes and materials

Biothane

With a core of polyester webbing, with an outer plastic coating. This actually makes it durable, flexible, waterproof and super easy to clean too – so for all those wickedly mucky pups and nasty days? These leashes are wonderful. They’re strong and reliable too.

Leather

Often used with horses (bridles and saddlery!) this material may be old school, and require the occasional bit of care? But it’s strong enough to stand up to pretty much anything so long as it’s cared for.

Nylon

Nylon webbing is incredibly strong, and any nylon based leash? Is likely exactly this. It’s known to have a tensile strength of 7,000 to 9,800lbs per square inch – which is enormous and able to contain most dogs even under sudden snatches (known as Shock load).

Braided Paracord

Paracord (typically “550 cord”) can deal with 550 pound-force – which I know doesn’t mean much as a number – but it’s a lot. And a braided paracord leash will naturally have a certain amount of elasticity and spring to it because of it being braided – will be incredibly strong and reliable to hold your dog – the more strands, the more dense the paracord and the better the braiding, the stronger it will be of course!

a padded cotton leash from Halti
a padded cotton leash from Halti

Padded

Padded leashes are wonderful to handle your dogs, they’re much more comfortable than a lot of leashes to handle but the strength behind them? Is pretty obvious. My favourite amongst these is the Halti training leash, it’s really diverse!

Climbing Rope

Designed to hold people when they’re climbing cliffs and things, and indeed to catch them when they fall – this definitely categorises it as a strong material that should hold up to any sort of dog pulling, lunging, or jumping. A Leash made with climbing rope should be reliable above anything else.

The climbing rope bases leashes are definitely interesting option
The climbing rope bases leashes are definitely interesting option – these ones are from Wilderdog!

Bungee

Some leashes contain bungee cord, often these are for canicross. This can help absorb impacts from weaving and tugging. It’s not something I would recommend for a regular walk, but it may be a fantastic short term solution if you’ve had a medical issue and are struggling to walk your dog, or if you’re doing canicross!

Chain

Old school, but functional. They’re also really heavy. They’re not conducive to grabbing either. But chain leashes do tend to be very reliable.

This is a horse grade lunge line, not a dog leash, but it should have done the trick. Evidently 40kg of fur was enough to sheer the clip in this way
A snapped snaphook! This was actually a horse grade lunge line that I was using with Indie – and he obliterated this. As you can see! Luckily, he had a muzzle on as back up, so it all amounted to nothing – but yikes – I’ve never been so scared.

Clips

Snaphook

These are the very ‘standard’ clip on most leashes, they’re usually brass, nickel or stainless steel. Stainless steel is stronger than the alternatives, but if you live in cold weather, or by the coast you may consider brass to be your best option – they also don’t rust.

Carabiner

With variable amounts of strength ratings on these, they can be wonderfully strong and easy to use.

Note: Not all carabiners are made the same. Please make sure when you’re shopping for these that you check if the carabiner is strength rated! Only trust brands who are open and honest that their product has been tested!

An example of a Kong Frog clip leash lead from Tactipup
An example of a Kong Frog clip leash lead from Tactipup.

KONG Frog Clip

Another piece of climbing equipment originally, but the Kong Frog clip (different Kong!) is rated for 4945lbs of force hitting it before it will possibly break. That is huge. And whilst lunging does creat a shock-load (similar to falling) it

TIP!
The more moving parts you have on your system, the more things there are that could fail. Simple means strong.

So What Do You Pick?

It’s a good question, right? Sorry, I know that’s not that helpful. But my favourite, most robust and versatile leash I’ve used to date? Is the Halti Training leash, super simple leash, but incredibly flexible for your needs. Long or short, there’s an option.

If you need help deciding on what equipment you need, why not check out Dog Products Reviewed by Rebarkable where you can find all the products I’ve looked into and hopefully find the best pieces for you! If not? Why not DM me on Instagram about your needs and I’ll walk you through a couple of options!

Or, if you need more support raising your puppy (because let’s face it, your leash is the least of your problems!), check out Pupdates, because they’re built to walk you through the process from week 1 to week 52!

Ali from Rebarkable and her dog Indie

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021’s worlds’ best pet blog!





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