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Retractable Cord Leashes vs. Retractable Tape or Ribbon Leashes: Which One Is Better?

When it comes to picking a retractable dog leash, there’s one critical design element that needs careful consideration – the type of leash used to extend the lead from the handle.

In the past, retractable dog leashes featured a nylon cord, which is like a single line of material that allows the leash to extend.

That nylon cord design was the only thing available in the early days, and it led to some safety problems, which has caused the internet to fill up with outrage about the dangers of retractable leashes.

However, in recent years, new, much safer designs have been debuted, and we’re pleased to inform you that these modern tape or ribbon-style retractable leashes are perfectly safe, as they overcome the issues presented by the old cord-style leashes.

Modern ribbon or tape-style leash provide the flexibility that is one of the most desirable features of a retractable leash, along with strength, control, safety and comfort that make using a retractable a good idea.

Taking the time to learn more about types of retractable leashes can ensure that you choose one that’s right for your dog, so with that in mind, this post will explain why you should choose a tape or ribbon-style leash, and how you can pick the right leash for your dog.

Retractable Cord-Style Leashes

A nylon cord leash is the original design of retractable leashes, but it’s one that’s certainly not optimal and is now considered sub-par compared to newer designs.

You might hear this style referred to as a nylon cord retractable or classic retractable leash. This style of leash uses a single nylon cord to attach your dogs lead to the handle you carry while walking them, and it’s an obsolete option.

Nylon cord leashes are more likely to snap and break when you’re mid-walk. They’re also more likely to wrap around your legs, your dog, or other obstacles, and they’re far more likely to cause burns, scrapes, and cuts as well.

When you’re choosing a retractable leash, it’s important to avoid one made with a nylon cord and to instead opt for a ribbon or tape-style leash, as these designs are far safer.

Retractable Tape or Ribbon-Style Leashes

So, if a corded leash is obsolete and potentially dangerous, what’s the best option that still affords you the flexibility of retractability? A tape or ribbon-style leash.

As the name indicates, these leashes look like ribbon or a measuring tape, as they’re wider, flatter, and larger than a nylon cord.

A tape or ribbon leash is stronger and more durable so you don’t have to go on walks with the constant worry it will snap.

They’re much less likely to wrap around you or your dog, and they’re just safer overall than a corded leash. It’s an optimal, modern design, and the only one you should consider when purchasing a retractable leash.  

Even beyond the overt safety issues, when choosing a tape or ribbon-style leash, you’re going to get more use out of it. They’re more durable because they won’t fray like nylon.

When you choose a great quality leash, you can enjoy your time spent outdoors with your dog, rather than worrying about everything that can go wrong.

How to Shop for a Safe Retractable Leash

Choosing the right retractable leash for your dog is very specific to their weight and size, their behavior, and your preferences. It’s not a one-size-fits-all selection process.

The following are some of the major factors to consider:

  • Durability: When you’re choosing a dog leash, you want to ensure it’s money well spent, meaning that it’s going to stand up to what’s likely going to be daily use. In fact, you might use your leash multiple times a day. You could be walking and using the leash in bad weather or extreme hot or cold. You want to keep all that in mind and ensure the materials used to make the leash are going to stand up to different scenarios.
  • The handle: One big component of the experience you have when walking your dog is how comfortable the handle is. You want a handle that feels good in your hand and won’t get too hot or cold, depending on the temperature. Look for a handle that’s rubberized and ergonomic. Along with being comfortable, a good handle is going to make you feel more empowered and in control when you’re walking your dog.
  • Clip: Look for a retractable leash with a clip that swivels. If the clip is inflexible and doesn’t swivel, then it increases the likelihood it will twist around itself or knot. You want to make sure the clip is going to effectively prevent tangles, and you also want one that’s easy to open and use regularly. The clip should stay securely closed even when there’s tension. You never want a weak clip that will break or give. Size factors into the clip too. You want to use a clip that’s big enough and strong enough for your dog, but if you have a small dog, don’t overdo it.
  • Leash style: This is what was discussed above—there are nylon corded leashes, and these should be avoided. Instead, look for a ribbon or tape-style leash that won’t fray or snap while you’re walking.
  • Weight limit: Before you choose a leash, make sure it’s appropriate for your dog’s size and weight. You’ll see a leash rating, and you might want to go up a bit to give yourself more coverage. You’ll particularly want to size up if your dog is very strong or is prone to pulling.
  • Brake controls: The most appealing feature of a retractable leash is the fact that it gives you flexibility. That flexibility is dependent on good brake control. Brake control is what lets you provide different lengths of leash to your dog, depending on the situation.
  • Tangle-free: A retractable dog leash should have design features that prevent it from wrapping around itself or the internal handle mechanisms.

How to Safely Use a Retractable Leash

In addition to picking a tape or ribbon-style leash, youre also going to need to make sure that you choose a leash that is rated as safe for your dog’s size and weight, typical behavior when you’re walking, and your comfort level.

You also need to make sure that you’re paying attention to what’s happening around you while walking, just like you’d need to do with a fixed-length traditional leash. This is the key factor in ensuring that you and your dog remain safe at all times while walking.

You should be present and mindful any time you’re walking your dog. Regardless of how great your leash is, if you aren’t paying attention, you may be putting yourself and your dog or others at risk. Put your phone away and watch for obstacles. Give your dog as much length as the situation calls for at any given moment, and don’t allow slack to build up in the line.

These things are easier to accomplish with the retractable leash since it gives you options for lengths, and gathers up slack automatically, so pick the right leash, use it safely, and you won’t have to worry about causing danger to yourself or your dog.

Which Retractable Leash Should I Get?

Again, always avoid a nylon cord leash. It’s not safe, nor is it reliable. Instead, opt for a leash with a tape or ribbon style.

Beyond that consideration, we want to make it easier for you to pick the right leash, which is why we recommend picking up a leash from Pet & Cuddle.

Pet & Cuddle leashes all utilize tape-style designs, and they’re also built to to provide maximum support, comfortability, and safety for both you and your dog.

Our retractable dog leashes are safe, comfortable and affordable, and designed to suit the needs of 99% dog owners.

We offer leashes at different weight ratings, so you can find exactly what you need for your dog. Whether you need a retractable leash for a small dog, or a retractable leash for a big dog, you can find it at Pet & Cuddle.

Shop for your next dog harness and retractable leash at Pet & Cuddle!


Common Questions About Retractable Dog Leashes

If you’re still uncertain about what type of retractable leashes will fit best to your dog, we’ve got all the answers you need! Keep reading for some commonly asked questions about retractable dog leashes from our customers.  

Is a tape or cord retractable leash better?

A tape or ribbon-style leash can be a much more durable and easy-to-maintain choice for a retractable leash. With a tape leash, you don’t have to worry that it will snap; they’re also less likely to get tangled up around you or your dog and are super easy to clean as well. 

What is the best material for a leash?

If you want to get a durable, comfortable and easy to clean retractable leash that simply works, go for nylon. It’s also stylish and affordable, so you and your dog will enjoy using it for any adventure!

Are chain leashes really bad for dogs?

Because of their size and weight, chain leashes should only be used on medium- and large-sized dogs that tend to bite their leashes. However, you should use these leashes extremely carefully, as they could cause injury to your fido.

Can I leave my dog on a leash for a long period of time?

It’s usually ok to have your dog leashed throughout the day if you want to prevent destructive behavior like chewing. But, it's not recommended to leave a dog leashed overnight or when you aren’t around; as it can easily get tangled and cause a choking hazard.

 Are dogs required to be on a leash?

Whether or not you need to leash your dog public depends on the location you're living in. At the time of writing, only Michigan and Pennsylvania have state-wide laws that require dogs to be under the owner’s control when off their property.
It's recommended to check with your local government for leash requirements in your area.