The Best Leash for Westies

ZippyPaws Makes Our Favorite Heavy-Duty Leash for Westies


Is your Westie energetic, powerful, and known to excessively pull on their leash? Does your Westie possess keen earth dog and also hunting instincts? (We are talking nearly superpower earth dog instinct.) If so, keep reading. This is a review of our favorite heavy-duty nylon, rope leashes for energetic, forceful Westies. Those West Highlands who without trepidation happily, and strongly, bound after every new scent while pulling on the leash.


If you have a calm West Highland White Terrier with low earth dog and hunting instincts, this leash is not for you. In fact, you will probably find this rope leash too thick, too bulky, and too extra in every way.


Below is a quick rundown if you are pressed for time and unable to read our full review.


ZippyPaws Mountain Climbers Dog Leash is a thick rope leash made from authentic mountain climbing rope. Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, it’s an excellent leash for robust outdoor exercise, but I don’t climb mountains nor does my Westie. (Actually, she would try to throttle up a mountain if chasing a deer.) The name lends itself to the fact it’s made of durable mountain climbing rope.


We love this leash for regular, daily use because it feels safe and secure on Westies that pull, possess a stronger than normal earth dog instinct; and those predisposed to chase and hunt rabbits they detect during daylight and midnight potty breaks. The human (me) can’t see anything when it’s pitch black, but the Westie knows precisely where the deer are standing and that a rabbit is just across the road.

ZippyPaws rope leash


When held in hand, the rope provides a firm grip. This is not a wimpy leash that feels as if it could slip out of hand and off the wrist. Some dog owners claim the rope is too thick. Its thickness is exactly why Westie Insider considers it one of the top leashes for rambunctious Westies.

zippy paws leash held in hand

– Made of real mountain climbing rope. Feels secure for the most powerful Westie.

– Thicker than ordinary rope leashes

– Tightly woven design makes the rope easy to grip. Westie Insider has not seen this type of tight weave on other rope leashes.

– Durable, heavy-duty silver clasp provides a secure connection. Westie Insider suggests using this leash with a harness for Westies.


Honestly, it’s hard to find something negative about ZippyPaw’s rope leash. Two years ago, we were relieved to find a leash that made us feel safe with a Westie who not only pulls on the leash but also has an acute earth dog instinct. As with any product, you will find those who don’t care for it. We listed the pros above. Here are a few cons we noticed online:


“The leash is too bulky, even for my 60 pound Husky.”

“It’s thicker than I expected.”

“The clasp is too big for smaller dogs.”


YES, this is a large, thick leash and that is why we love it. Remember, this leash is ideal for Westies that harshly pull, and/or exhibit strong earth dog and also hunting instincts. This is the sort of rope leash that should be used with a harness – especially if your Westie is petite.


If your West Highland White Terrier is relatively calm, this leash probably isn’t for you.

Read on for a more in-depth review.

This year there are several dog products notching up five stars on Amazon and sending enthusiastic reviewers into a frenzy. In the canine category, most of the high reviews include harnesses, collars, and leashes. If you are looking for a new leash for your Westie, keep reading! Today we are recommending one we love; especially if your West Highland has a keen hunting instinct and pulls on the leash. ZippyPaws Mountain Climbers Dog Leash gets our top review, and we think it’s one of the best leashes for an active Westie.


As consumers, we appreciate reviews; they are informative, lend a birds-eye view into how a product fits a dog and describes the quality. However, as we know, many product reviews are fake. E-commerce is competitive and manufacturers jockey for products to be in front of consumers’ eyes in any way possible – including forced reviews. Five-star reviews sell products. One of the pillars in founding Westie Insider was to give honest opinions and reviews on products – many of them tested on our favorite terriers.


When it comes to our Westies, we want the best for them – they deserve it. Westie Insider orders and tries many products before writing reviews and recommendations. We have used this ZippyPaws rope leash for precisely two years.


The Leash Switch

– With all previous Westies, I used retractable leashes

Current Westie pulls and possesses super strong earth dog and also hunting instincts

– My Westie’s obedience teacher loaned me a flat, woven, nylon leash

– Did the Google dance researching traditional nylon leashes and discovered ZippyPaws rope leash


I spent the greater portion of my Westie life using retractable leashes, or whatever was stocked at my local veterinarian. Researching different styles of leashes never crossed my mind. My childhood Westies had it lucky with a large fenced backyard. They had the freedom to run wild as much as their hearts desired and their human family felt safe knowing they couldn’t escape. Later in life, the universe bestowed upon me the unicorn of all Westies: a calm terrier. Not once throughout her life did I ever hear her growl. Her hunting instincts were nearly nonexistent, and she wouldn’t think of chasing a squirrel. She was perfectly content calmly remaining by my side or on my lap. I never entertained the idea that my leashes were questionable.


Then, the universe thought it would be fun to shake things up and toss me a lovely curveball – or should it be furball? I went from caring for the calmest, most devoted Westie I’d ever known, to a brand new fluffy, ornery, white canon ball. I named the new puppy Sally, and I thought we’d easily set off together on our life journey in-synch. I was wrong…very wrong.


Aside from attitude problems, of which I enlisted the help of a canine trainer, Sally’s earth dog and hunting instincts were the strongest and boldest of any Westie I’d owned. Along with a keen hunting instinct, she also has incredible eyesight, and a razor-sharp brain; this makes for a triple threat, especially when outdoors on a leash. This is a Westie who will always be on a leash outside unless she has access to a fenced in yard or tennis court. It’s a good thing I buckled up because the ensuing year was a stressful ride. Through hard work and perseverance, both Sally the Westie, and I the human, came out mostly unscathed. Bonus? I discovered a leash I’ll never leave without. Sally’s temper is under control (usually), but her hunting and earth dog characteristics as are as strong as ever.


As mentioned above, at 5 months old, Sally embarked on weekly one-on-one obedience and attitude classes with a fabulous trainer. During one class, said canine expert peppered me with questions about my retractable leash. “Do you prefer using a retractable leash? I rarely use them. I prefer woven nylon leashes because they feel sturdier, and use their sense of gravity to guide the dog,” she said. I told her that with Sally’s earth dog instincts, the leash I’d used for decades felt flimsy. Considering she darts off in a millisecond upon discovering a new scent or spotting a deer late at night; even at 5 months of age, the retractable leash felt weak as if it didn’t support her center of gravity.


Soon after discussing retractable leashes, Sally squirmed out of her collar which prompted me to switch to a harness. (You can read about that incident here.) Several weeks into our obedience and attitude class the trainer let me borrow a traditional, flat, nylon leash to try with her new harness. Although dull, the smooth, black leash felt right, and I knew my leash of choice needed a palate cleanser.


A week of using the bland, nylon leash provided me a chance to evaluate its pros and cons. One Saturday morning, I switched back to the retractable leash to see how it compared, and the difference was night and day. The nylon leash felt solid and sturdy – whereas its retractable counterpart was floppy, too thin, and definitely not suitable for an earth dog terrier that pulls on her leash. Case closed – no more retractable leashes for this Westie.


The Search

The search was on. It was time to do the Google dance and secure a nylon, nonexpendable leash for Sally. It needed to be wider/thicker than the leash I borrowed and 6 feet vs. 4 feet. I surmised a thicker leash would feel safer and stronger around my wrist and in the hand when we are outside in the dark; turned out I was right. Other Westie owners know the feeling when all is quiet outdoors, but it’s suddenly disrupted by a scent or another animal nearby. The sudden, jarring pull on the leash


I purchase nearly all pet supplies online. Midnight shopping for the win: Amazon and Chewy are go-to sites. Aimlessly wondering up and down aisles, I spend far more in brick-and-mortar stores on products my Westie. Many pet sites also offer more inventory to browse.


Amazon provided a goldmine of choices when their algorithm presented several rope style leashes. The rope intrigued me because the flat, smooth nylon leash I’d borrowed didn’t take up much room in my hand; it was better than retractable styles, but I still hoped to discover something thicker and heartier. I wanted a leash I could really grip. With my Westie’s earth and hunting instincts, I never hold the leash only through the loop handle with my fingers. My full hand goes through the loop to my upper wrist, and then I hold part of the rope in the palm of my hand. Most retractable leashes only provide one way of holding, and you can’t double grip with your hand(s).


ZippyPaws Mountain Climbers Dog Leash

After viewing several rope style leashes, I found myself revisiting an unusually thick design by ZippyPaws. It appeared dense and looked like a leash for a large Rotweiller or muscular Pitbull – precisely what I wanted. Even though my Westie weighs a little under 15 pounds, I was tired of feeling that her leash wasn’t stable when she pulls and stands on rear legs. Fear quickly strikes the Westie’s human (me) as darkness encases the two of us under an ink-black canopy at 1 AM. As Deer hunker down for the night in vacant land nearby, Sally sees them and pulls and barks – I never knew if previous leashes would break. Were they strong enough? Was she going to bust loose and I’d never see her again? ZippyPaws Mountain Climbers Dog Leash looked like it could hold onto a zebra, surely it could handle Sally.


ZippyPaws rope leash was initially confusing because of its name: Climbers Mountain Climbing Rope Dog Leash. And then other sites had it named as ZippyPaws Mountain Climbers Dog Leash. A quick dance between browser tabs proved it was indeed the same leash. I don’t climb mountains, and neither does my Westie. Further sleuthing revealed it’s actually made from mountain climbing rope and thus the moniker. No need to worry that this leash is only for mountain climbing with your dog – it’s not. (I love the outdoors, but my lazy rear end is not about to scale a mountain with a rope; and furthermore, I’m not even sure it’s possible with a dog.)


I placed an order for two overly thick 6-foot ZippyPaw leashes and called it a day. The brand states this rope is thicker than ordinary rope leashes. I prepped myself that I’d essentially be holding a nylon tube in my hand. Surely that would be enough grip.


New ZippyPaw’s Rope Leash

With Amazon’s impossibly fast shipping, the new leashes arrive the next day. Just as I suspected, ZippyPaw’s rope leashes were super thick. The thickness may be off-putting to some, but I took to it right away. I noticed the density of the rope and its weave made the leash easy to grip. The silver clasp attached easily to Sally’s harness – it’s heavy and dense with an industrial sturdiness. Many may opine the silver clasp is too big for a small dog. I like that it’s a little on the large side – it feels incredibly secure. If your Westie is on the smaller side, this leash should be used with a harness. I’d never use it on a collar.

zippy paws rope leash Westie

Time to test ZippyPaw’s Rope Leash: As we both barrel outside, I noticed a slight stiffness to the rope. However, that lessened within a week. What I really love, 2 years on, is the size and texture of the mountain climbing rope. Its thickness in diameter and weave of the fibers make it easy to hold and grip. I cringe using a rope leash that feels too glossy and slick – that means it could hypothetically slip over my fingers and wrist. As previously mentioned, my Westie pulls and lunges on a dime. I worry about minute details such as the leash slipping away from me.


Update: There are reviews online of dog owners stating this leash wasn’t easy to grip or felt too slick. I disagree but to each their own. To me, this is the only rope leash with a texture that doesn’t feel overly glossy and slick.


Many rope leash manufacturers use slick nylon in their weave pattern. It’s possible (only my hypothesis) those fibers contain more fillers and plastic compared to this one by ZippyPaws. Don’t get me wrong, the mountain rope leash is not rough to the touch. It’s smooth, but not slick, and provides the perfect grip. Another reason ZippyPaws is easy to hold/grip (aside from its thickness) is the nylon fibers have a tighter weave compared to other rope leashes on the market. Thus, this tight weave lends a sturdiness – the opposite of limp and loose.

two rope leashes

The leash on the left is a beauty, and I wanted to love it. With the green rope, it exudes a low-key preppy, well made aesthetic. Indeed, it is well made, and I adore the leather accent and topstitching. The clasp is sturdy and feels safe and secure attached to Sally’s harness. However, the adoration went downhill after Sally barged outside and spotted a deer. Tightly gripping the leash, I immediately noticed the rope was incredibly smooth and weak. Standing on hind legs and barking, this Westie wanted nothing more than to chase her evening visitors. I panicked as she pulled on the leash and the rope fell limp. With my wrist wrapped securely through the hoop, I firmly grabbed part of the leash in the palm of my hand, but the rope itself didn’t feel secure. This was not a firm leash that made me feel safe with a rambunctious West Highland White Terrier. It went limp in my hand, and there was no structure to the rope itself. I had high hopes for this leash, but the nylon that makes up this leash provides minimal grip, and the weave is loose.


ZippyPaws weave is the exact opposite. The nylon threads used to make the rope are firm and somewhat dense. These nylon strips are woven together in a tight pattern. The tight weave and thickness of the rope provide not only a firm grip but also prevents the leash from feeling limp and floppy.


Above, I mentioned Zippy Paw’s sturdiness and that when it first arrived, it felt stiff. It softens over the first few weeks of use. Don’t take that the wrong way and think this rope leash won’t bend. You can bend and contort this leash in nearly any direction and shape. However, it’s circumference and weave delivers an incredibly strong rope leash.



As aforementioned, ZippyPaws Mountain Climber has been my preferred leash for the past two years. I’ve ordered, and tested, other rope and nylon leashes. Even though I am loyal to Zippy Paws, I wondered if another leash could top it. It couldn’t. I keep the other rope leashes I tested around for backup; including one in my car for emergencies. But I doubt they will see much use. For a feisty Westie, whose natural instincts are to hunt, and sleuth every new scent, Zippy Paw’s Mountain leash is hands-down the best.


When Sally lunges and pulls, the leash feels safe in hand and around the wrist. Pictured below is the leash looped through my wrist. Notice the black fabric wrapped around the end of the loop? That has never pulled apart. (Hopefully it never does.)

The metal clasp is equally secure attached to her harness. Again, I wouldn’t use this leash on a Westie’s collar. Although if you have a large Westie, go ahead and give it a try. A handful of reviewers online feel the metal clasp is too large for smaller dogs – perhaps they are using it with a collar. The large, silver clasp does not bother me. When it comes to my Westie’s safety, aesthetics fly out the window. I personally don’t view the clasp as overly large or clunky. Perhaps it was in the very beginning, but I no longer notice if it’s too big.


With my glowing review and never-ending adoration for this leash, I’m surprised when I’m out with Sally and the leash is on the receiving end of criticism.


This past autumn I drove to an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sally and I, along with a family member, were standing outside the car taking in the stunning vistas. We quickly made friends with a couple in the car parked next to us. After some back and forth and lots of discussion about dogs, the woman honed in on Sally’s leash.


“What the h*ll kind of leash is that? It looks like it belongs on a Doberman,” she piped up.


I explained Sally’s hunting instinct and that she is also muscular and powerful despite her small stature, and overly energetic. Later I surmised you have to be a true dog person to understand why this leash is indispensable – especially when handling an earth dog or one that cannot control their hunting instinct.


Another judgmental comment occurred closer to home.


“Why do you need such thick rope for a leash?” a neighbor grouchily mumbled through his cigar.


This particular neighbor feels superior because his dog breed preference is “better” than my loyalty to Westies. (We all know the “my dog is better than yours” variety.) Our exchanges are always brisk. Perhaps you know the type. Know-it-all neighbors are delicious at times, aren’t they? Especially when they think their dogs are superior. It’s not a competition. There is an art to throwing buckets of subtle shade back right back at them.

Most reviewers leaving negative and obtuse comments on this leash have no idea what it’s like to care for an earth dog and one with a strong hunting instinct. ZippyPaws Mountain Rope also provides a strong sense of gravity on her back vs. a leash attached to a collar. No doubt in the future I’ll hear more comments concerning Sally’s thick rope leash. Bring them on. Read the dearth of propitious comments on Chewy and Amazon – it basically sets in stone that this is a one-of-a-kind leash.

zippy paws dog leash westie
For a sense of perspective, this is a shot showing the circumference of ZippyPaw’s 6-foot rope leash attached to a small-ish Westie. No doubt, this is a very thick and strong leash. Some may say it’s too big, but that’s exactly why we love it.

I’ve learned in my lifetime of caring for dogs (Westies) that there are varying degrees of dog owners.


A large chunk of these owners love their dogs, but keep them at arm’s length. If the dog has an attitude, they don’t take it to a trainer to remedy the situation. They aren’t in tune to solving their dog’s problems – whether they be health, safety, obedience, etc. Of course, they take their dogs to the vet, but they usually don’t go beyond set norms.


As the pendulum swings, we have dog owners who go beyond the boundaries of traditional ownership. They seek the best for their dogs and will do whatever it entails solving any problems that arise. These owners take extra steps to ensure their canines are healthy and cared for. They aren’t merely dog owners, they are dog listeners and devoted caregivers. If their dog is sick or diagnosed with an illness, they visit their regular, local vet, and then they also do their own research. They may choose to add an extra point of view and consult with a holistic vet to add remedies along with those prescribed by their traditional vet. Being this type of dog owner is time-consuming and expensive, but it’s what most should aspire to be.


So, neighbor, and anyone else I encounter who gives me attitude about my favorite leash…I’m trying my hardest to be a good Westie owner. I’m taking that extra step. Her safety and well being depends on me, the human. If the rope looks too big, who cares. I love how it feels in my hand, and so far it’s very secure when she pulls and bounds towards deer, rabbits, birds, the list is endless.


Earth Dog, Hunter, and Boisterous Westie

ZippyPaws mountain rope is certainly not an ideal leash for every Westie. Many Westies are born with only mild hunting and prey instincts; while others, like my Sally, would love nothing more than stalk and hunt vermin, deer, rabbit – basically any animal or critter. Keep in mind, if your Westie pulls on the leash, but doesn’t necessarily display earth dog instincts, you may want to give it a try – especially if you feel other leashes don’t feel strong, or maybe you have wanted to try a thicker rope design.


This is also an excellent leash for travel and road trips.

westies in car

On a rainy, April evening as I conclude this article, there are still a few more points to make. (Not surprising.) Just a few hours ago, I latched ZippyPaws rope leash onto Sally’s harness. While still inside, I made sure my wrist is through the loop and my hand firmly attached to the rope. I know from experience, I need to be “suited up” and everything adequately attached to both Westie and human before we even open the door. To Sally’s delight, the minute the door opens, a squirrel is sitting on the porch. Perhaps he’s taking shelter from the rain, or maybe he’s there to annoy a certain little Westie.


As the squirrel races off, Sally bounds after it. Her legs pick up speed, and inevitably she pulls on the leash. Sally may be tiny in stature, but she’s incredibly muscular. I hold the rope firmly in hand and remember why this design by ZippyPaws is my favorite.


When I tried Zippy Paws Mountain Climber leash, I knew I’d crossed the Rubicon and retractable leashes were far in the past.


Zippy Paws Leash on a Westie

Zippy Paws Mountain Climber Rope Dog Leash from $10.99. Available from Amazon here. Available from here.