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The History of Retractable Dog Leashes

The first retractable dog leash was invented by an American woman named Mary A. Delaney. Little is known about her life, except that she received a patent on May 12, 1908 for her invention of a retractable dog leash. She explained the reason behind her invention, citing that dog owners were prevailed upon to constantly readjust leashes to keep their dogs from running into pedestrians or getting tangled up with lamp posts. She also noted that due to the constant adjustments, owners had a high chance of dropping the leash, thus allowing a dog to run away. She explained that her invention was intended to “obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances” associated with non-retractable leashes. And indeed, retractable dog leashes have become extremely popular among pet owners. While innovations in materials and functionality have certainly been made since Delaney created the first retractable dog leash way back in 1908, the basic concept she presented has remained intact and many dog owners today prefer retractable leashes to their non-retractable counterparts.

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