It’s safe to say picking the Best Leash for Your German Shepherd is important for a number of reasons.
On one hand, having the right equipment can make a world of difference when it comes to simple tasks like walking your German Shepherd, or teaching skills like on the leash, or off the leash training.
But, most importantly, a leash is a legal requirement in most countries and public places – to keep you, your German Shepherd, and other humans and animals safe.
A leash isn’t optional, it’s often the law.
To make the decision for picking a good leash for your German Shepherd easier, we’ve put together the following top rated leashes list, and dog leash buyer’s guide and FAQ.
Top Rated Leashes and Leads For German Shepherds List
We understand you might not have time to read through this whole guide. That’s fine 🙂
You can check out our top German Shepherd leash product choices here…
PetsLovers Premium Dog Leash (On Amazon) – Nylon Leash
Logical Leather Training Leash (On Amazon) – Leather, Puppy, and Puller Leash
Hamilton 4-Feet Extra Fine Chain Dog Lead (On Amazon) – Metal/Chain, and Chewer Leash
FuzzBunz Dog Leash (On Amazon) – Reflective Leash
URPOWER 26-Feet Nylon Retractable Dog Leash (On Amazon) – Retractable & Training Leash
Best Leash/Lead For German Shepherd – Buyer’s Guide & FAQ
Purpose of Dog Leashes/Leads
The 2 main purposes of a good leash are:
- To keep your German Shepherd safe (and the general public safe), and under control while in public areas
- And as an aid in training your GSD dog or puppy.
Leads can be multi-functional and used for many recreational and training activities – walking, heeling, tracking, patrolling, show events and more.
Criteria & Features of The Best Leash For Your German Shepherd
The Best Leash for German Shepherds will meet 3 main criteria:
- Be durable/strong, reliable and safe (for your German Shepherd, you and the public)
- Be water, rust and snap/pull resistant
- Be suitable (and comfortable) for the main purposes you require it for (recreation or training)
Remember, although German Shepherds are a large and strong dog breed, you should give your GSD on leash training as a puppy to minimise pulling during walking and other unwanted behaviors. This is particularly true for the elderly, smaller statured people and those with arm and shoulder injuries.
Important Parts of a Dog Leash
The common leash has 3 main parts to it:
- The Handle – You want it to be comfortable in your hand, but strong and durable at the same time. Woven nylon and polished leather are good for this.
- The Lead – Leads are generally 5-7 feet, or 1.5-2.5m. The lead should be strong (resist pulling, water and chewing), have some ‘spring’ for pulling (you dont want a stiff lead with no ‘give’ that jerks your arm and shoulder), and be the right length and width (at least 1 inch, or 2.5cm). Again, nylon and leather are good choices.
- The Clip – Usually a metal clip which attaches to the collar or harness loop/s of your GSD. The clip needs to be rust proof, and durable so it does’t become loose or snap. Stainless steel clips usually achieve this.
Materials and Fabrics of Dog Leashes & Leads
Dog leashes and leads are made of different materials and fabrics, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses, and are good for different circumstances:
Nylon is a less expensive material, yet very durable, lightweight and strong. Nylon is a man-made fiber, so it comes in different forms (standard and woven) and colors. The woven nylon cord leads are particularly strong and durable for their price.
Nylon is waterproof, so it doesn’t experience water damage, shrinking, and it dries out easily. It’s also easy to keep clean.
The disadvantages of nylon are that it isn’t completely chew proof, and some have complained of rubbing/chafing of the handler’s skin (although it is rare).
Leather is the most expensive leash material, but is very strong and durable. Some leather leashes have be know to last the lifetime of a German Shepherd (10-15 years).
Treated leather is soft on the hands, and leather leads are also most suitable if you have issues with chewing or lead fraying (although they aren’t completely chew and fray resistant).
Some leather leash manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee on their leash – which is obviously great value for money.
Metal and chain is not popular, but is used in some specific circumstances. It is obviously very strong and chew resistant, so can be used for extra strong dogs and those who have chewing problems (just need to watch out they don’t keep chewing and hurt/damage their teeth).
These leashes are nylon or leather with reflective material woven into the lead.
They are designed for people who walk their GSD’s at night and want that extra visibility/safety – particularly if vehicles, bikes and people are in close vicinity, or they walk in a remote area where they and their dog can’t easily be seen e.g. a country area.
Cloth is not used much anymore, but used to be used more frequently. Nylon leashes cost the same amount, but are much stronger and durable.
Also not popular or used extensively anymore. Nylon leads have made plastic and rubber almost redundant.
Types and Styles of Dog Leashes
There are different personalities and difficulty levels of GSD’s to walk and train, (although if your dog is difficult to walk, leash training or professional obedience will fix that) and use a leash with.
You are not only dealing with the dog, but different scenarios and situations, which dictate which type of leash might be better too.
To combat this, there are many different lengths, widths, styles and types of dog leashes available to suit different breeds, temperaments of dog, and for different uses in everyday life and training:
The most popular and common leash type for most dog owners (will suit both recreational walking, and most types of basic training).
These leashes usually measure around 6ft or 2m in length, and 1 inch or 2.5 cms in width for an ideal large dog leash.
They are made in most materials, lengths and widths – so there is alot of flexibility and choice. Recommended for most GSD owners.
The best standard leashes that are most popular among GSD owners come in nylon and leather materials.
Retractable leashes usually measure out to have 25-30feet, or 7-9 meters of lead.
They have a lead housing unit (usually plastic) held by the owner, which has an internal wheel that loads the lead, a handle and a button to freeze the lead length.
These sorts of leashes are good for training such as off leash walking, that requires to train your German Shepherd at a distance.
Unless you buy a very high quality/heavy duty leash, retractable leashes can be a poor choice because the lead is often thin (leads to fraying), and the loading wheel can lock up and fail – especially with strong dogs like GSDs consistently putting pressure on it. If it has a plastic housing unit, these can also be prone to breaking.
Not recommended for difficult GSDs.
Adjustable Dog Leash
This type of leash is a hybrid of the standard and retractable leashes.
It is essentially a standard leash with several loops that allow the owner to adjust the length of the leash to be longer or shorter as they please.
Not recommended for new GSD owners.
Not generally recommended for larger dog breeds like German Shepherds.
This type of leash combines a leash and collar into the one piece of equipment. The collar part slips over the dog’s head and tightens as it is pulled.
The standard leash is recommended over a martingale leash for a German Shepherd.
Like a metal version of a Martingale leash.
It is not suggested to use choker chains on your GSD. A GSD’s natural reaction (from evolution before domestication) is to resist your pulling, and actually go in the opposite direction.
A choker chain should really only be used by professional trainers who have a need to use it to correct a behavior in a GSD who was mistreatedm or not trained or socialized correctly.
Multiple Dog Dog Leash
Used to walk more than one dog at a time on the same leash.
There is a single handle and one lead going down to an attachment/coupling device. From there, any number of leads (usually 2 or 3) are attached to multiple dogs.
For owners with multiple well behaved GSD’s, or professional dog walkers. Although this type of lead can create control issues for more adventurous dogs and puppies.
Seat Belt Safety Leash
Essentially a seat belt extension for your GSD. One end clips to your dogs collar or harness, and the other into the seatbelt clip.
It prevents your dog from climbing around in the car and distracting you, but also protects them in the event of a crash.
In some countries is is against the law not to secure your dog in the car while driving.
Seatbelt harnesses and secured dog crates are the other options to seat belt safety leashes – You can read about the Best Dog Crate For German Shepherds here.
Types and Styles of Leash Clips
Clips must be good quality – strong, secure (not loosen over time) and be rust resistant. Stainless steel clips of medium thickness are recommended for these reasons. There are two main types of clips per LabradorTrainingHQ.com:
Bolt Snap Clips
“The bolt snap clip has a little spring inside a shaft that you slide open to create a hole to pass a collars ring through.
These are a quite reliable clip, hence their popularity, but over time the spring often weakens and the clip can start to work loose resulting in your dog being able to escape the leash.”
Trigger Snap Clips
“A trigger snap clip is also spring-loaded, with a little trigger you use to lever the clip open.
But these clips tend to be bigger and more robust with a larger spring than a bolt snap clip so don’t become weak as easily.
Also, because they open inwards, when your dog pulls, the tension created actually holds the clip closed with more force. So they’re far less likely to come open and have your dog escape his leash.
Trigger snap clips are probably a better option overall for larger dog breeds, but bolt snaps are very common and are a fantastic clip too. Just check the strength of the spring every couple of weeks to make sure it’s still strong and will remain closed.”
Personal Experience of A Large Dog Owner
This writer personally uses a round, medium thickness, 7 foot/2m woven Nylon cord lead with a 40kg/90 pound dog.
No chafing at all has been experienced on the hand, even with wrapping the nylon around the hand to shorten the lead – and with a dog that will pull when he sees other dogs at times, or finds food on the ground nearby.
The woven cord nylon also seems to be resistant to at least minimal chewing/mouthing, is extremely strong with some ‘spring’ for pulling, and is extremely lightweight to carry.
There has been no issue with basic training and everyday walking with a nylon leash.
The type, material and length/width of leash/lead you should ultimately get should depend on the following criteria:
- For what and how you will be using the leash
- The behavior of your German Shepherd
- How much you want to/can spend
- How often you want to be buying new leashes
A standard nylon (round or flat) should suit most regular dog owners, whilst a leather leash would be good for German Shepherd owners and trainers with particularly strong or large dogs.
A leash/lead is probably the most important piece of equipment you’ll purchase, along with the best collar and best harness for your German Shepherd (a dog bed, water bowl and food bowl are the other essentials).
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