Flat-buckle collars are now the preferred canine neckwear for both walking and training. However, some dogs find themselves in situations for which slip leads and leashes are more appropriate. Conformation shows, performance events and even grooming or vet appointments might call for slip leads or leashes. In most of these situations slip leads and leashes are used for ease of application or removal rather than to discipline.
Groomers, veterinarians and boarding kennel staff often use a kennel leash to bring a dog from one place to another. The leash usually consists of lightweight fabric with a metal or plastic ring at one end. The end opposite the ring may or may not have a loop for a handle. A slip leash is formed when the fabric is passed through the ring.
A conformation loop lead is made for use in the conformation dog show ring. It is not used for regular walking, for control or for training, particularly since the diameter of the begins at one-eighth of an inch for toy dog leads and is rarely larger than half an inch for larger dogs. A conformation loop lead is used for guiding a dog as she gaits (trots) around the ring next to her handler. The lead can be made of leather, flat woven cotton or polyester material or round braided cord. Some cotton leads are waxed for easier handling.
One end of the conformation loop lead is sewn into a small loop, while the other end is sewn into a larger loop to provide a handle. Leather leads often have metal rings at one end, rather than being sewn into a loop. Like that of the kennel lead, the fabric or leather of a conformation loop lead is passed through the smaller loop to form a slip lead.
A martingale show lead is a “limited slip lead.” It is usually made of tightly woven or braided cotton or polyester threads, although some may be made of braided leather or plastic cord. Handcrafted martingale show leads are sometimes made with parachute or similar cord and may be decorated with beads.
A martingale show lead consists of two parts: a fabric or plastic collar and the lead itself. The martingale collar is typically a single strip of fabric, both ends of which has a metal or plastic ring sewn into it. The lead consists of the handle loop at one end and a second loop at the opposite end that feeds through both rings on the collar and is sewn to the length of the lead. This permanent and unmovable loop controls the tension of the collar on the dog’s neck, creating a limited choke that never becomes tight enough to actually choke the dog. The collar is prevented from opening widely enough for the dog to back out of the loop by a plastic or rubber slide that secures it in place.
A British-style show lead is similar to a loop lead. However, the diameter of the braided cord is approximately one-quarter of an inch to half an inch in diameter, or even greater depending on the size of the dog for which it is intended. The British-style show lead has pieces of real or simulated leather sewn at the base of the handle loop and at the base of the metal ring at the moveable loop end, as well as a stopper tab about one-third of the distance from the lower ring.
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