Both short and extending leads have their advantages and their disadvantages. I believe the kind of lead you use is totally up to what type of dog you have on your hands. Morgana and Cassie are the yin and yang of doggie world, so we have had two completely different experiences with both of these troubles. Morgana took to walkies straight away and walked perfectly but Cassie (check out the harness post) was a different story. However, when in the park Cassie would return if called but Morgana responded better to visual instructions and usually becomes too absorbed in trying to chase pigeons.
The extending lead has the advantages that there is increased freedom in which the dog can walk whilst also having some control compared to having your dog off-lead. There are certain limitations to the extending lead in that a dog can cover distance if you don't have quick reflexes. Also you have to be aware of friction burns if the cable is pulled across skin. These situations can be completely avoided if your dog doesn't suffer from poor lead manners, where it is actually quite dangerous to use an extending lead. To put simply I wouldn't have Cassie on an extending lead but Morgana uses hers frequently.
There has been an increase in some very pretty flexi leads, for Christmas my lovely mother bought me this gorgeous pink and black flexi lead and different styles are becoming available. Compared to the previous versions these flexi leads don't have a cable but something that resembles a normal lead that is retractable, so if you manage to get wrapped up you won't experience the same cable burns.
Pretty short leads can also be found, one of my favourites is Pet London, where you have the choice to purchase a matching lead with some of the harnesses. Urban Pup also provide cute collar and lead sets. For those who really want something that stands out you should take a look at the Fabuleash. These are available in the UK now at stores such as Pets At Home and for under £10.00.