Flexi retractable leashes review – A better alternative to a lead?

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Murphy on his Flexi leadI’ve been using retractable leads ever since I discovered them with my first dog, Henry, and they have turned dog walking from a shoulder-jerking chore into a pleasure for both me and my dogs.

This is a review of Flexi retractable leads. If you want to know more about retractable leads, points to consider when selecting one and how to choose the right one for you and your dog, you’ll find that here: Retractable Leashes – Easier And Safer Dog Walking

The Flexi company

Flexi was the first company to produce retractable leads. It began, like all good inventions, with an idea way back in 1972 and the company was formed the following year.

A lot of technical design and manufacturing know-how has since gone into the development of the leads and each new model features improved functionality and design.

Flexi leads – German engineering

Flexi leads are made in Germany and it may sound like a bit of a cliché but they have very high manufacturing standards. Every Flexi lead I’ve seen is high quality, smart and robust.

Flexi’s current range of retractable leashes is far more versatile and technically advanced than the first leads I used. Let’s look at the basic method of operation.

How Flexi retractable leads work

Whether cord or tape, the lead wraps around a spool inside the handle which is held under tension by a spring. If there’s no tension on the lead, it retracts into the handle. So when your dog runs ahead or lags behind, the lead will always have a little tension in it. Simple.

There will be times when you need to stop your dog running ahead or you need to shorten the lead. A Stop button on top of the handle – which Flexi calls the Short-Stop Braking System – locks the lead and is easily operated with one hand.

How to shorten the leash

There’s a simple method of ‘reeling in’ your dog which is explained in the manual and tutorial videos. You extend your arm, press the brake, step towards your dog and pull your arm back. It quickly becomes second nature.

You may hear people complaining about getting ‘wrapped up’ by the lead. These things can happen, but they can happen with any retractable lead. However, if you follow the instructions it really shouldn’t happen often. I have never any major problems with any of the Flexi leads I’ve used.

Also, and I’m repeating this because it bears repeating, do not grab the cord or tape with your other hand as it could cause injury. If you stay in control it should never be necessary; you just need to press the brake.

Flexi safety collar

The Flexi Safety Collar is used along with your dog’s own collar. It wraps loosely around your dog’s neck and you attach the lead to it and your dog’s collar.

It’s designed to avoid snap back should your dog’s collar snap or if the lead disconnects from the collar.

This is a relatively recent innovation and my early Flexi leads did not include a safety collar.

Flexible Flexi leashes

All the Flexi leads work in the same way. The major difference between them is in the styling, and some have additional features.

For example, some models such as the VARIO and New Comfort have a wheel for adjusting the handle gap to suit people with different sized hands. This is only available in certain sizes.

The handles and materials also differ from model to model but most have a soft grip handle. My original Flexi leads had plastic handles but were still comfortable.

The handles are all ergonomic and comfortable to hold, just remember that you may not be able to put all your fingers through the handles of the smaller leads.

Given the recommendations regarding size and weight of dogs (there’s a table at the end of this review), unless your dog is at the very lower end of the weight range, I would suggest looking at a larger size than that suggested for safety reasons and for comfort.

Flexi accessories

An interesting feature of some Flexi designs is the ability to add accessories to them. They offer improved safety (the Lighting System) and convenience (the Multi Box).

These are certainly worth a look when you order your Flexi lead but do note that not every accessory is compatible with every lead. Even those made for a specific model may only be suitable for leads of certain sizes (the Lighting System, for example) so do check before buying.

Flexi VARIO accessories

Flexi’s new VARIO range has five accessories which are useful and offer enhanced safety features.

Multi Box

This is for Small, Medium and Large leads and fits into a slot at the bottom of the lead between the handle and the spool. It’s a small, neat container for treats or poop bags and it comes with a roll of 20 bags. You can access the bags from a slot in the bottom of the box.

If you prefer to store treats in it, it can be opened from either side so it’s suitable for both left- and right-handed users.

If you’re anything like me, I load up with treats before setting off on a walk and I have several coats and jackets whose pockets are filled with bits of treats. I don’t usually dress up when going dog-walking but if it’s necessary to look smart, the Multi Box would certainly save the pockets.

Lighting System

This is also for Small, Medium and Large leads. It attaches to the handle with Velcro and features a front light and a red back light each of which can be switched on and off individually. If you walk at dusk or in the dark, this is an excellent safety feature.

LED Flash Belt

This is another safety add-on if you walk in the dark. It attaches easily using the VARIO multi-belt link system. It has three different settings – constant light, pulse and flash. It’s splash-proof and moisture-proof.

Soft Stop Belt

This also attaches with the VARIO multi-belt link system. It acts as a shock absorber so if your dog runs suddenly and the lead fully extends or you press the brake, he or she doesn’t get yanked by the neck.

Also, of course, it means your arm doesn’t get jerked, either. A win-win situation. If your dog is prone to bolting, chasing an interesting scent or rustle in the bushes, this could well benefit both of you. It’s available in Small/Medium and Large sizes.

Duo Belt

This is yet another attachment that uses the VARIO multi-belt link system. If you have two dogs, it lets you walk both of them at the same time.

However, do note that it is only intended for small dogs, less than 5kg, and it’s only intended for the Flexi Small lead.

Flexi accessories for other models

The New Classic, New Comfort, New Neon and Design leads can also be fitted with a Multi Box and Lighting System. As with the VARIO leads, they are suitable for Small, Medium and Large handles.

The only difference between these accessories and the VARIO ones is the colour.


Having said that, some of the VARIO accessories come in a range of colours – turquoise, brown, pink, anthracite, red and blue – so you can pick ones to suit the lead, your dog, your fashion sense or all three!

Flexi retractable leashes – summary

Flexi has been around for well over 40 years and the leads it produces now are at the leading edge of dog technology.

I like the construction of the Flexi leads. They are solid and robust and feel well-made without being unduly heavy. And, more to the point, they function incredibly well.

Flexi’s current range allows for customisation and, of course, you can pick a lead which is rather more fashionable, not to mention functional, than a brown leather strap.

I never thought beyond functionality with my early Flexi leads. The nearest current equivalent is probably the New Classic although I do like the look and feel of the New Comfort range and that would be my choice for use with my Rottidoberdor.

That’s just a personal preference. All the Flexi leads have similar mechanisms so you can pick one which appeals to you. If your dog is prone to bolting, I would also recommend adding the Short-Stop Belt to save their neck and your arm!

Heavy duty retractable dog leads

If your dog is particularly large or strong, take a look at the Giant range. These leads are as tough as you’ll get – they are essentially industrial strength!

They do weigh more than the other leads – the Giant Professional with a 10m tape lead and the Giant XL 8m tape both weigh in at 860g – but you could probably take an elephant for a walk with one. Well, okay, not quite… 🙂

Large retractable dog leads

Speaking of weight, most of the Medium leads are under 300g and even the Large leads are only 510g. So if you don’t need an Extra Large lead there are lots of Large ones to choose from.

However, my advice would be to check your dog’s weight, take into consideration how active they are and how much they pull, and if you’re getting near the upper limit of a size, to get the next size up.

If you have a smaller dog then the Flexi world is your oyster with lots of models available in Extra Small, Small and Medium sizes.

Flexi leashes – all the models, all the sizes, all the lengths

There are currently no less than nine Flexi lead models, in a wide range of sizes and lengths so you’re guaranteed to find one – or, more likely, several – that suit you and your dog.

You can’t get any size in any length in every model. But you can get any size in the most sensible and practical lengths for both cord and tape.

Trying to discover which models are available in which sizes with which lead types and which lengths is a bit of a nightmare so I’ve put together a sortable chart which lays everything out in what I hope is an easy-to-read fashion.

Flexi size and weight recommendations

These are the sizes and weight recommendations that Flexi uses. Just to be clear, a M lead, for example, is for dogs who weigh less than 25kg.

But do be aware that these are only guidelines. If your dog is, say, 20kg and active or prone to pulling or bolting, it could be worth looking at a larger size.

XS < 12kg (26lbs)
S   < 15kg (33lbs)
M  < 25kg (55lbs)
L   < 60kg (132lbs)
XL > 50kg (110lbs)

Flexi models and sizes

The table below lists all the current Flexi models along with their available sizes and cord and tape lengths.

You can sort the table by clicking the headers so if you want to know which models are available with an 8m tape lead, simply click on the Tape 8m header (you may have to click twice as repeated clicking reverses the sort order).

If you want to see which leads are available in a particular size, click on the Size header.

To reset the table, refresh the page or press F5.

Flexi Retractable Leash Models And Sizes

ModelSizeCord 3mCord 5mCord 8mTape 3mTape 5mTape 8mTape 10m
VARIOXSGreen TickGreen Tick
VARIOSGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
VARIOMGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
VARIOLGreen TickGreen Tick
New ComfortXSGreen TickGreen Tick
New ComfortSGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
New ComfortMGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
New ComfortLGreen TickGreen Tick
New ClassicXSGreen TickGreen Tick
New ClassicSGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
New ClassicMGreen TickGreen TickGreen Tick
New ClassicLGreen TickGreen Tick
DesignXSGreen Tick
DesignSGreen TickGreen Tick
DesignMGreen TickGreen Tick
DesignLGreen Tick
New NeonXSGreen TickGreen Tick
New NeonSGreen TickGreen Tick
New NeonMGreen TickGreen Tick
New NeonLGreen Tick
GiantMGreen Tick
GiantLGreen Tick
GiantXLGreen Tick
Giant ProfessionalLGreen Tick
CollectionSGreen Tick
CollectionMGreen Tick
LeatherMGreen Tick
Glam SplashSGreen Tick
Glam SplashMGreen Tick
Glam CompositionSGreen Tick
Glam CompositionMGreen Tick

The full range of Flexi leashes is available on Amazon so check them out there:

American flagAmazon USA – Buy Flexi Retractable Leashes

Amazon UK – UK flagBuy Flexi Retractable Leashes

Amazon Canada – Canadian flagBuy Flexi Retractable Leashes

Amazon Australia – Australian flagBuy Flexi Retractable Leashes

If you have any questions about Flexi leads, please leave them in the Comments below and I’ll back to you as soon as I can.


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4 comments on “Flexi retractable leashes review – A better alternative to a lead?

  1. Wow…loads of information for us dog lovers! I love the descriptions of the different devices. I think you have done a great job, it’s very easy to read.

    I have a unique situation in that we have a Dachshund and our daughter has a Pit bull.

    How can I walk them both and not get tangled up, or jerked around?

    How does the Duo Belt work? Obviously, not with 2 different sized dogs?

    I have experienced the “snap back” when I release the clip, so I assume yours doesn’t do that?

    Great job. Love my dog! Obviously you do, too!



    • Hi Joe – thanks for your kind comments, much appreciated.

      The Duo Belt is only intended for small (and light) dogs so, alas, not suitable for your two. It’s simply a split lead so the two dogs will walk pretty close together but are still able to move away from you as the main lead extends.

      That’s the principle, and although the Flexi Duo belt may not be suitable, there are other duo attachments which might do the job, providing your main Flexi lead is tough enough for the two dogs.

      Dual lead attachments

      Another option is to pout one dog on the Flexi and the other on a normal lead (then switch them around at half time – it’s only fair!) but that will depend on how well behaved they are on their walk. If you need some help in that department, take a look at Worry Free Walks.

      I’m not sure what you mean by ‘snap back’ in your example. Snap back occurs when the lead breals, becomes detatched from the collar or the collar breaks and it then ‘snaps back’ into the handle. If the lead is loose and the brake is on and you release the brake there will be a snap back effect as the slack on the lead is taken up into the handle.

      In normal use there should never be any slack as you would not have the brake on so the lead is at tension between you and your dog. If you put the brake on it’s to hald your dog or reel him in and there’s an easy method for doing that as shown in the video.

      The safety collar is designed to prevent snap back should the lead come away from your dog’s collar or if your dog’s collar breaks.

      Hope that helps 🙂


  2. Very interesting article with lot of information. i knew about Flexi leashes i did not know they came with that many features. Thank you for all the information I can tell you really did your homework on the company. That you really use and enjoy their product.

    Thank you for all the tips and advice. On how how to shorten the lead and how keep the dogs from jerking. You made understanding which lead to get easy. 

    Some questions are their any other brads of flexible lead and can you do a review for them?

    Is their any tech to make grooming you dog easier?

    • Hi Terry – thanks for yopur kind comments. If I say so myself, I think the table helps explain the options better than Flexi 🙂  Because there are so many variations, I thought it would help when choosing a lead.

      Ye, there are several other makes of retractable lead! I reciwed the Flexi leashes because they w ere one of the first (if not THE first) company to produce them so they have a long history of R&R, and I have used them for many yuers and I found them to be robust and reliable. Most retractable leads, size for size, are priced roughly the same. and, in my opinion, there’s not enough difference to make price a buying criteria. However, it would be interesting to look at some others so I may do that in future 🙂

      Tech for easier dog groomoing? You could try a dog parlour – put them in one end and out they come the other perfectly groomed 🙂  But it’s a good question. I know many dogs who hate being brushed but much of that stems from not being introduced to the process when a puppy and not doing it very often. I’ll put that on my list of things to look at, too 🙂


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