TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash Review – Good Or Bad?
June 5th, 2019. Last Updated April 4th, 2020
Table of Contents
Disclaimer: This review of the TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash contains affiliate links for various pet products. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
A while back, Yuna got a little better at leash walking and recall. We’ve always used a short four foot leash on most of our walks, but I wanted to get a retractable leash for parks and hikes.
Simply searching on Google and Amazon for “retractable dog leash” was like getting hit by a wrecking ball of advertisements and information.
It was real dizzying at first. Such is the Internet. But after regaining composure and spending some time digging around reading user reviews, I went from not knowing where to start to having the TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash sent to my home via Amazon Prime.
This leash is lauded by Amazon reviewers and many other doggy-dedicated sites, often appearing as the editor’s top pick in their review articles. For example, Canine Journal rates the TaoTronics retractable dog leash best overall. WoofDog also puts it at the very top of their top 5 list.
At the same time, you may be rightly suspicious about this leash, because TaoTronics is an electronics company that doesn’t specialize in retractable leashes, much less dog gear.
So should you trust it? Maybe you’re already thinking of picking it up? Read on for our detailed review and final verdict on the TaoTronics retractable dog leash.
A Note On Retractable Leashes
Before starting, it’s worth noting that retractable leashes are pretty controversial. We touched on this briefly in our Guide To Picking A Dog Leash.
Opponents argue they can be unsafe. Since they’re allowed to extend far beyond most classic leashes, an unsupervised dog on a retractable leash could find himself wandering to the middle of a street.
Perhaps worse, a dog shouldn’t always have too much freedom during a walk. It’s better to use a traditional leash and teach them to walk properly on a lead.
In addition, the actual leads on most retractable leashes are quite thin. This may prove inadequate in handling larger dogs.
Injury and reinforcing bad leash walking behavior are just a few of the other reasons why some staunchly reject retractable leashes.
However, depending on the circumstance, I think that a retractable leash makes tons of sense for a lot of dogs.
For example, if you’re out in the suburbs or countryside and there isn’t much foot traffic during your usual walks, a retractable leash becomes a great option.
We summarize when a retractable leash makes sense in our Lab Report below.
Most importantly, you should be the judge of whether a retractable leash will allow your dog too much freedom. Ideally, your dog is already decent at regular leash walking–a retractable leash is just a step up from that to allow your dog some more freedom on walks.
Moreover, retractable leashes are flexible. They can act as a standard leash if equipped with a trusty locking mechanism–just keep the leash locked at your desired length.
We aim to publish a full article on using a retractable versus classic leash. For now, onward to the star of the show–the TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash!
Let’s zoom out and get a good overview on this thing–don’t want to miss the forest for the trees!
First, the actual lead. This ribbon is made of nylon, and is approximately 0.5’’ in length (1.27 cm). It extends up to 16 feet (4.88m).
The entire retractable leash casing and handle is listed on Amazon as being 6.2’’ by 4.2’’ by 1.4’’, and weighs 12.5 ounces. I took out my ruler and scale for this and that’s pretty darn accurate.
The casing is made of ABS plastic. It features a large, anti-slip handle that’s easy to grip.
Even considering some of its competitors, the TaoTronics is described as having a larger and more comfortable handle.
While holding the leash, at your thumb is the locking mechanism. Just push the button down to stop the free extension, and push it further inwards to lock it in place. “Pulling” the button back out releases the lock.
Also, the attachment. Here you’ve got a regular snap hook designed to be easily and quickly attachable to any collar or harness.
Finally, just a little bonus: a bone-shaped waste bag dispenser is added to the ergonomic handle, so you’re never left without a poop bag.
You operate all this with one hand, making it convenient and versatile for you while you control your dog.
All in all, pretty standard so far for a retractable leash–has all the features you want and that’s what makes it the top choice on MyPetNeedsThat.
I’ve been using this a decent amount with Yuna, so now let’s deep dive into everything you’d want to know before deciding to buy!
The lead ribbon is made of nylon. This classic material is found in many regular commercial leashes.
Nylon is known for being the best “bang for your buck” type of leash and is sturdy enough to handle most situations.
However, if you’ve got a chewer, good luck with that! Won’t be long before they easily rip through nylon.
Moreover, let’s take a serious look at the width of the lead. It measures in at just 0.5’’, typical for a retractable leash, but short of the standard 0.75’’ to 1’’ width that many regular nylon leashes boast.
Despite this, TaoTronics makes the promise that any dog up to 110 lbs (~50 kg) is fit for this leash.
Ehh honestly… I don’t know about that. TaoTronics doesn’t explain the reasoning behind this number.
Got A Large Dog?
I would not personally recommend this to any larger dog as I think there are potentially serious concerns of safety. If you fish around Amazon reviews, plenty of customers express similar sentiments.
Yuna hovers on the lighter side of 60 lbs. Even then, I feel like if she really put all her doggy might into a mad dash after a wild squirrel, the leash would experience severe strain. After a while I think there’d be significant wear on the leash (and me).
This scenario has yet to happen. But think of it this way–I would probably not fully trust a thin 0.5’’ nylon lead if I saw one at Petco in the form of a classic leash, so why would I when it’s tucked into a retractable leash?
Final Rating - Durability
Based on all that, here’s my final recommendation–for dogs that aren’t strong pullers, I think the max weight I’d give my stamp of approval on is 80 lbs.
My final rating would have to be a 3 out of 5 for durability–though note that this is a knock against retractable leashes in general, not just TaoTronics. The 0.5’’ width, while a standard among retractables, is just too thin.
Control - The Locking Mechanism
Here is a big plus on the TaoTronics retractable dog leash–the locking mechanism is extremely durable and reliable.
We’ve put significant mileage on this leash and the lock has not failed us once. I can stop Yuna on a moment’s notice and while that does result in a sudden jerk, the overall handle and casing is very strong and I’m able to retain a solid grip on the leash.
The locking button itself is really deserving of praise.
In addition to being placed naturally where your thumb would be, it also contains tiny ridges for that additional friction you need to push and control the button. Great attention to detail there.
Releasing The Lock
Maybe I’m still working my way towards being a master of the retractable leash, but sometimes releasing the lock gets tricky.
Why is that? Well, imagine this scenario:
- Yuna has extended the leash to around 10-12 feet and is busy sniffing something on the ground.
- I don’t want Yuna to go any further than she already has, so I lock the leash.
- I recall Yuna to me.
- At this point, the lead is still 12 feet long, so I need to release the lock to shorten it.
The moment I release that lock… BAM! The pullback on this thing is quite strong and it feels like it retracts instantaneously (like one of those heavy duty measuring tapes!).
And since this thing is attached to her after all, this sometimes scares Yuna.
This may not be an actual problem in most cases, and after getting more used to the release mechanism you get a lot better at handling the leash. But just keep in mind that the release does pack a punch!
Considering that the pullback can be significant for the small dogs out there, I wouldn’t recommend this leash for very small or toy breeds under 15 lbs or so.
There’s also the occasional slip up where you drop the leash, and if it’s not in locked position, it will quickly retract towards your dog and hit them, causing possible injury especially if your dog is small.
Final Rating - Control & Locking
I’d give the final control & locking mechanism a solid 5 out of 5. You certainly can’t knock it for being strong and sturdy–that’s exactly what many retractable leashes lack.
Moreover, we really enjoy the attention to detail with the design of the locking button. When used correctly, it will give your dog enough freedom while keeping them safe.
Length - Is This The Longest Retractable Dog Leash?
The TaoTronics at 16 feet is decent, and probably more than you’ll ever need. If for some reason you’re purely looking for the longest retractable dog leash, there are superior options.
16 feet seems to be the norm for a lot of retractable leashes on the market. For example, it’s also the maximum length of the popular Flexi Neon Retractable Leash.
And the TaoTronics actually loses to this 26 foot version of Flexi’s retractable leashes, which is probably the longest retractable dog leash out there.
A couple other alternatives are nicely summarized in this article which also features a chart comparing their maximum lengths.
Final Rating - Length
In pretty much any normal scenario I can think of, 16 feet is completely sufficient for serious sniffing and exploration. Any longer than that and your dog may as well be off-leash. 5 out of 5 in our book.
Longevity - How Long Will The Leash Last?
Update: We have retired our TaoTronics retractable dog leash after a year and a half of service before it broke. What happened? Read on below.
Let’s take a look at this leash after a year and a half of service.
We used this leash once or twice a week when we go out to a public park. Additionally, we employed it for most if not all of our hikes, as I think it’s more convenient for Yuna to explore around, at least when the trails aren’t super busy.
We loved taking it up the snowy mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
Throughout all these adventures, there was not much wear and tear on the product. The lead was as new.
In fact, the only noticeable difference between this product and a completely new one was the scratches on the TaoTronics logo–this is mostly likely from me putting down the leash and it dragging along the ground as I pick up Yuna’s poop.
How Our TaoTronics Leash Broke
So for us, what ultimately did this leash in? We’ll let you in on some good news–we don’t think it was anything to do with the TaoTronics leash specifically.
Rather, it’s a flaw of retractable leashes in general. Let me explain.
In all retractable leashes, the leash portion comes out of a small opening in the casing. That opening needs to be loose enough to allow fluid movement of the leash as it extends and retracts.
But an opening is an opening. It can inadvertently allow random things to enter in the casing.
In our case, because we frequented dog beaches in the summer time, we’d often take the TaoTronics leash with us.
I’d allow Yuna to just run free on the beach. Fault me for being lazy, but sometimes I wouldn’t unclip the leash off her, but instead allow her to drag the leash across the sand.
It sounds really stupid in retrospect–obviously, you should never do this.
But this allowed sand to enter the casing. And after a couple times of doing this, the locking button finally jammed–probably some sand got stuck in the casing somewhere.
With the locking mechanism broken, the leash obviously couldn’t be used.
Final Rating - Longevity
So what’s the moral of the story here? We think this leash definitely can last your dog a very long time. But it requires correct use.
If you’re holding the leash the entire time, it’s very unlikely any sand or small pebbles will enter the leash and break it like ours did.
Avoid placing the leash in sand or on the ground in general. If you must, make sure your dog doesn’t drag it around everywhere. That would decrease its lifespan significantly.
Still, note the relative fragility of the retractable leash compared to a classic leash.
While I can say with confidence that every classic nylon leash I get will last Yuna’s entire lifetime, there’s just a lot more that can go wrong with a retractable leash with all its extra components.
So for longevity, we’ll conclude with a 3 out of 5 rating.
I think for the quality and value you can get from the TaoTronics leash, the price really is a great deal compared to a lot of the other options.
Flexi (as mentioned in the previous section) and many other top retractable leash brands are more expensive, and are not necessarily more durable or flexible than TaoTronics.
This makes TaoTronics a great option to try out a solid retractable leash if you’re just getting into them and want to see what they’re all about without that huge upfront investment.
This is definitely a leash that’ll do the job without breaking the bank.
Final Rating - Price
Virtually unbeatable. 5 out of 5.
We’ll take a minute here to note that TaoTronics is, after all, an electronics company.
TaoTronics sells various types of electronic gear including headphones, LED lamps, sound bars, etc. Thus, they are not a dedicated dog company–their dog products get categorized under “Other” on their website.
This may cause some dog owners to question the quality of their leash. Or if anything, they (like me) will just think it’s a little unusual for them to decide to compete in this space.
You could argue that since TaoTronics is not a pet-dedicated company that they won’t have pet owners’ best interests at heart. Indeed, it seems that other brands like Flexi are better positioned to win the trust of dog owners.
But you’re just here to find a reliable leash. And from our experience, this product delivers.
Moreover, from what I could garner from user reviews across multiple platforms, customer service reviews were generally good. I frequently saw reviews where TaoTronics offered to replace defective leashes for free.
Motto: Have Fun Under Control
Printed clearly on this leash is the motto “Have Fun Under Control.” Not the most creative, but this is exactly what this leash was built to provide.
You definitely get added flexibility using this leash, especially if transitioning over from a classic lead. However, you get a lot of control at your fingertips as well, so make sure to be a responsible owner and make sure your dog is safe while having fun.
Conclusion & Verdict: Who Is This Leash For?
Given everything we’ve talked about, here’s a summary of who I think the TaoTronics retractable dog leash is best for:
- Dogs between 20-80 lbs who are at least somewhat decent at walking on a leash.
- Dogs who are not strong pullers or strong chewers, as they could destroy the thin 0.5’’ nylon ribbon.
- Humans who would like to give their dogs more freedom to explore, but also pinky promise to keep a close watch while they sniff around.
- Humans who are looking for an extremely affordable retractable leash that also doesn’t lag in quality.
- Humans and dogs who just want to try a retractable leash and see what that experience is all about!
We have pointed out the cons of this leash as well. However, the knocks against this leash are characteristic of retractable leashes in general, so as long as you’re smart with your usage, we think this leash is a great overall option among retractables.
Check out the leash on Amazon and have it delivered to your house in days!
- [Amazon] TaoTronics Retractable Dog Leash
Still not sure whether this leash is for you? Questions about retractable leashes in general? Comment below or email us.
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