An image showing a cow happily tethered to a fence post - ah, the power of the lead in Minecraft!

Taking Inventory: Lead

On a tight leash

There are a lot of wild animals in Minecraft. Cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, frogs, axolotls, and many more besides. They’re easy to find when you’re not looking for them – but as soon as you need a chicken they’re nowhere to be found. If only there was some way you could keep one tied up and accessible at a moment’s notice. Good news, there is! It’s the lead, and it’s our item of the month.

Leads were added to Minecraft in the Horse Update, way back in 2013. As the name suggests, they were originally designed to be used to tie up horses, but it turned out that they were useful on other animals too. Today you can leash almost any neutral or friendly mob! 

Getting hold of a lead is simple... ish. You’ll need string, which is dropped by spiders, striders and cats, and a slimeball, which is dropped by slimes. Mash them together in a crafting grid and you’ll get a lead. In fact, you’ll get two – handy for when you lose the first.

Right-click a mob and you’ll tie the lead to it. It’ll then follow you wherever you go – but don’t move too fast or the lead could snap – you can only get a maximum of ten blocks from the mob before it breaks. You can hold multiple mobs at the same time, but each one requires its own lead. 

There’s another trick you can do. While holding a mob on a lead, you can hit the “use” button on any kind of fence to tie the mob to that fence, keeping it within five blocks of the fencepost. To free it, just hit “use” on the fencepost again and you’ll be holding the lead once more. Leads can also be broken with projectiles.

In the real world, leads take many forms – from a simple metal chain, to a softer leather lead, to a nylon rope with a fancy retracting mechanism that keeps the lead taut no matter how far your pet gets away from you.

Leads are mostly used when walking dogs, keeping both the dog and other people safe at the same time. But it’s possible to find leads and harnesses for cats, rabbits, stoats, cows, llamas, horses, and all manner of other creatures too. 

Minecraft’s leads are generally used in the same way real-world leads are used on larger animals – to lead them to where you want them to go and then tether them there so they don’t wander off. But there’s nothing stopping you taking a chicken, cat, wolf, or frog for a daily walk too. A great way to spend time with your beloved pets!

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere