Once you're familiar with all of the awesome properties of biothane, you may have decided to invest in a leash or a long line. With so many width and length options, it can be hard to figure out what will work best for you and your dog. Here are some sizing guidelines that will hopefully be helpful!
How Our Sizing Works
At High Tail Hikes, we organize our leashes and long lines into three categories - Small, Medium, and Large. This sizing refers to the width of the biothane material. Small leashes and long lines are 3/8" wide, Medium are 1/2" wide, and Large are 3/4" wide. Each size also utilizes a different size clasp.
As a general guideline, we recommend that Small leashes and lines are used for dogs between 5 and 30 pounds, Medium for dogs 30-60 pounds, and Large for dogs over 60 pounds. These are simply guidelines that we feel will work well for most dogs, based on our experience and feedback from customers. Each dog and handler is different and has different needs and sensitivities, so take your unique situation into account.
Break Strength - Will My Line Break?
A note on break strength: these size/weight ranges are NOT safety ranges based on the break strength of biothane. Biothane is incredibly strong - tested at a 1000 pound break strength for every 1" of width. Even the thinnest biothane has a break strength of many hundreds of pounds. If you are using an intact, undamaged leash or line, you do not need to worry about your line breaking - even with the most determined pulling. That said - YOU are ultimately responsible for the safety of your dog no matter what equipment you use. Please inspect your leash, hardware, and equipment regularly - and consider a safety strap or double back up if you are working with a heavy puller, a dog with reactivity, or simply for peace of mind.
What to Consider
The two things we take into consideration with sizing are:
1. How the equipment feels to the dog; and
2. How the equipments feels to you, the handler.
For #1, you will want to think about the dog's comfort level, particularly when it comes to the weight of the material. You want to select a material that is not going to feel heavy or uncomfortable to the dog. This is true both for the weight of the material and for the clasp. This is particularly important when it comes to long lines, which are heavier than leashes by nature of being longer, and which are often used as drag lines. All that said, we recommend that you use the suggested weight ranges when sizing your dog for a leash or long line - OR - that you use the thinnest, "smallest" size that you feel comfortable using. When it comes to width, if in doubt, we recommend sizing down.
For #2, you will want to think about both the feel of the material in your hand and how easy it will be to manage your leash or long line while working with your dog. The feel of the material in the hand is very individual; some prefer a more substantial feel, and others like the thinnest, lightest material possible. You also want to think about the weight of the material and how that will impact leash and (particularly) long line management. As you go up in length, weight considerations increase. At 30 feet, a Large long line will be fairly heavy and may feel burdensome if you are doing a lot of line management. A thinner line will be less weight to manage, but could be more difficult to get a hold of or less "grippy" under certain conditions, and could be uncomfortable if you are working with a large dog who is pulling.
What Length to Choose?
Once you've decided on Small, Medium, or Large, you'll need to decide on length. We currently offer our Leashes in 4, 5, and 6 foot lengths, and our Long Lines in 10, 15, 20, and 30 foot lengths (we are always happy to make a line in a custom length, just email us). For a standard leash, some prefer shorter, but we generally recommend 6 feet as this will be the most versatile. For a long line, it depends on what activities you'll be using it for.
If you're simply looking for something a little longer than a standard leash for decompression walks, outings, and the like, we love the 10 foot length. 15 feet is very versatile - great for using as a drag line for hiking, beach romps, and as a general purpose long line. If you are working with a puppy, working on recall, or working with a dog with a history of reactivity, fear, noise sensitivity, or any other behavioral concerns, we recommend a longer line, 20 or even 30 feet. This will give you a lot of flexibility and peace of mind. If in doubt, we recommend sizing UP in length.
Handle or No?
We offer the option of adding a handle to your long line, or leaving the handle off. Why would you choose a long line without a handle (sometimes called a drag line)? If you are using your line primarily as a drag line for off leash hiking, and your dog is running off trail through brush, rocks, etc, it's possible for the handle to get caught. For most general purpose uses, or if you're not sure, we recommend adding a handle to your line for safety and convenience.
That's it for now! If you have any other questions about sizing, just email us and we're happy to help!