Dog GPS trackers won't just help you keep track of your four-legged best friend. These trackers can also help you keep your pet healthy. According to PetMD, more than a third of dogs are overweight. A dog GPS tracker can help you combat canine obesity by allowing you to track a variety of health statistics. As with human fitness trackers, dog GPS trackers have apps that provide a wealth of fitness data, including the amount of distance the dog travels each day as well as the number of calories they burn. Some even allow you to compare your dog's statistics to other pets. Here's what you should consider when shopping for the best dog GPS trackers.
How We Picked the Best Dog GPS Trackers
In selecting our top five dog trackers from the more than a dozen dog trackers we researched, we considered a variety of criteria. First and foremost, a dog tracker should allow you to keep your dog safe by helping you locate him quickly should he leave your property. With that in mind, we chose models that notify the user with a push alert when a dog ventures beyond the home WiFi range. The trackers we chose also have apps that allow you to effectively track your dog by clearly showing both you and your dog's location on an easy-to-read map. Since the tracker will only work if it has power, we chose models with rechargeable batteries that can last weeks when connected to a home's WiFi or several days when using a GPS connection. A GPS dog tracker should also allow you to track your dog's fitness level, so we chose trackers that have apps with robust fitness tracking features.
Best Dog GPS Trackers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Fi Smart Dog Collar
Why It Made The Cut: Not only does the Fi Smart dog collar offer an excellent tracker, but it's also one of the most robust fitness trackers.
— Weight: 1.4 ounces
— Subscription: $99 per year
— Battery Life: up to 2 months
— Long battery life
— Robust fitness tracking features
— Excellent signal sensitivity
— Only works with Fi collars
— Too bulky for dogs that weigh less than 10 pounds.
A months-long battery life and robust fitness tracking set Fi apart from other GPS dog collars. Similar to other dog trackers, the Fi smart GPS dog collar uses WiFi connectivity when your dog is at home to improve battery life since GPS and LTE connections hog energy. This setup allows it to last up to three months on a single charge or up to two days when in lost mode.
Once out of WiFi range, the collar connects to GPS or LTE to broadcast his whereabouts, which appear on a map via the Fi smartphone app. Should Spot go AWOL, you can switch the collar to “lost mode” during which it will send a new location once a minute and turn on a red LED light that makes your dog more visible at night.
While many dog GPS trackers offer fitness tracking, Fi takes it to the next level by allowing you to compete with other dogs and monitor sleep quality. You can compare your dog's fitness statistics with other dogs based on breed and location and set goals to monitor your pup’s sleep time, a cool feature if you suspect an ailment may be impacting his sleep.
The Fi is durably constructed with an aluminum faceplate and IPX 68 rating that makes it impenetrable to dirt and submersible up to 5 feet. Fi does require you to purchase one of its collars to go with it, as it won't work with a standard dog collar. Color options include blue, gray, pink, or yellow, with sizes ranging from 11.5 inches up to 34.5 inches. Your pet must weigh at least 10 pounds, so the Fi tracker isn't an option for cats or small dogs.
Runner Up: Whistle Go Explore
Why It Made The Cut: Whistle Go takes fitness tracking to another level by monitoring your pet’s behavior for signs of health issues.
— Weight: 1.3 ounces
— Subscription: $6.95 per month
— Battery Life: Up to 20 days
— Tracks dog behavior to monitor health
— Waterproof up to 6 feet
— Works with any collar
— No desktop computer access
The latest iteration of the Whistle Go takes what was already a very good GPS dog tracker and makes it even better by expanding its fitness tracking capabilities. As with other GPS dog trackers, the WhistleGo will track your dog’s health, allowing you to see how much distance they’ve covered over a period of time. WhistleGo also goes deeper than most fitness trackers, as it will look for other indicators or health problems, including licking, scratching, and sleep interruptions.
As a tracking device, the Whistle Go works similarly to other GPS dog trackers. Once turned on, the tracker will connect to your home’s WiFi and remain in safe mode, helping to save battery life.
Should your pet move out of your home networks’ range, it sends a push alert to your smartphone. You can then track the dog through the Whistle Go Explore app on a Google Earth map. Icons for you (and anyone else on your search team) and the dog appear on the display, making tracking easier. The tracker also has three safety LED light settings, making your dog more visible at night.
With its IPX8 rating, the tracker will work even when submerged in up to 6 feet of water. Like most dog GPS trackers, Whistle GO does require a GPS subscription, which can be had for as little as $6.95 per month if you pay two years in advance.
Best for Hiking: Garmin TT 15
Why It Made The Cut: The rugged design and long range of this backwoods tracker make it the best option when hiking or hunting with your dog off-leash.
— Weight: 10 ounces
— Subscription: None
— Battery Life: 20 to 40 hours
— Long 9-mile range
— Excellent signal strength thanks to GPS/Glonass receiver
— Requires handheld receiver
— Weighs 10 ounces
Hunting and hiking, both situations where your dog may spend a fair amount of time off-leash while in the middle of nowhere, demands a tracker with excellent range and durability. Garmin's TT 15 uses a built-in GPS/GLONASS receiver with an 18.5-inch or 22.5-inch antenna to connect to a compatible Garmin GPS receiver up to 9 miles away. This external antenna not only increases range but also improves connectivity under heavy tree cover (a likely scenario when venturing into the backcountry to hike or hunt).
The tracker is also equipped with other features that make it easier to locate your dog. Using the GPS receiver, you can command it to vibrate and play loud audible tones. The vibrations can signal your dog to return to you (assuming you've trained him to do so, of course), while the audible tones help locate him if he's hidden in dense brush.
There are also built-in LED lights that are useful for locating your dog at night.
The TT15 is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts between 20 and 40 hours, depending on how hard the collar works to maintain a connection. The TT15 is clearly designed for backwoods use. It is ruggedly built with water resistance to 10 meters. It's also clearly meant for larger breeds with a hefty total weight of 10 ounces.
Though the upfront cost is pricier than other dog GPS devices, and it requires a compatible Garmin handheld receiver (it does not work with a smartphone), there is no subscription fee.
Best Fitness Tracker: Fitbark
Why It Made The Cut: By using a 3-axis accelerometer, the Fitbark can closely track dog behaviors to deliver more detailed health information.
— Weight: 0.6 ounces
— Subscription: $5.95 per month
— Battery Life: 10 to 20 days
— In-depth fitness metrics
— Allows you to sync your fitness data with your dogs
— Can connect via Bluetooth, WiFi, GPD, and cellular
— Lightweight design
— Shorter battery life than other trackers
Whereas most dog GPS trackers focus on keeping your animal safe by allowing you to locate them should they wander off your property, Fitbark does so while also prioritizing your dog’s physical fitness. FitBark takes its fitness tracking a step further than other trackers by using a 3-axis accelerometer that allows it to track sleep and behavioral patterns as well as location. It then takes it a step forward by analyzing all the data it collects to provide owners with feedback by creating a sleep score and overall health index.
And since the tracker connects via Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular network (a true feat given that it weighs just over half an ounce), it can link to a variety of devices, including your Apple Watch, Fitbit, Google Fit, and other popular fitness trackers, allowing you to compare your stats to your dog's.
The small receiver weighs 6 ounces and will clip to smaller collars, making it a great option for smaller dogs that may not be able to handle the bulk of larger dog GPS trackers.
Despite its small size, the Fitbark gets a respectable battery life of up to 30 days when connected to a WiFi network or up to 4 days when using GPS. As a locator, it works similarly to other GPS trackers, alerting you when your pet escapes and allowing you to track him via a map that shows both you and your dog's position. Optimize your pet's health further with a DNA kit and training classes for dogs.
Best Without Subscription: Petfon
Why It Made The Cut: This was the most effective subscription-free dog GPS tracker that we could find.
— Weight: 1 ounce
— Subscription: None
— Battery Life: 8 to 16 hours
— No subscription fee required
— Radar features point you in the direction of your dog
— Allows you to program voice commands that can be replayed to your dog
— Shorter range than other trackers
— Short battery life of 8 to 16 hours
Petfon separates itself from the pack by offering a GPS locator that doesn’t come with a monthly subscription fee. Petfon uses GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth to give you real-time GPS tracking through its compatible smartphone app. Similar to other trackers that require a subscription, Petfon lets you program push notifications, alerting you when your dog leaves a preprogrammed geofenced safe area.
Petfon offers other unique features, including the ability to program voice commands on the tracker, allowing you to communicate with them remotely. You can track your four-legged companion on a map and view his location history. It also includes a radar system that will point you in the direction of your pet.
Although Petfon's no-subscription design may be appealing, it does have its limitations. Since it doesn't use a cell phone network (which would require a subscription fee), its range is much smaller than other trackers at 0.65 miles in densely populated areas and up to 3.5 miles in open areas. The tracker also has a higher upfront cost than most dog GPS trackers. Petfon also has a battery life that’s much shorter than other GPS trackers at between 8 and 16 hours.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Dog GPS Tracker
Cost: Many GPS trackers require you to subscribe to a monthly subscription plan to access their GPS network. Subscription plans generally cost around $5 to $6 a month. There are some GPS trackers that do not require a subscription; however, these units typically carry a steeper upfront cost and don't offer the same range as those that do.
Battery: GPS trackers run off of standard rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. How long the batteries last depend on a variety of factors. It takes more power for a GPS device to connect to a satellite as opposed to your home's WiFi. Most GPS devices will last weeks on a single charge when connected to your home's network. That battery life drops to a couple of days when your dog is off the property, and the collar must connect to satellites. Find more energy-saving options with the best rechargeable batteries.
Activity Monitoring: In addition to monitoring a dog’s location for safety purposes, GPS dog trackers can also track your pet’s activity. These features allow you to see if your dog is getting enough exercise by logging their steps and distance traveled. Many dog trackers allow you to set exercise goals for your dog and even compare their activity to other dogs in your area or of the same breed. By analyzing sleep patterns, you can also identify if your dog is experiencing health problems that may be preventing him from getting a good night’s sleep.
Size and Weight: Not all GPS trackers work with all dogs. Lightweight models can fit smaller dogs, while larger trackers may only work with dogs that are 10 pounds or greater. It's also important to check collar compatibility to ensure the receiver will work with a collar that also fits your dog. DNA testing can help you learn more about your pet's personality. Learn more in this DNA My Pet Review.
Q: What is the most accurate dog GPS tracker?
Since all dog trackers use satellite technology to track your dog, they all offer very similar accuracy. What differentiates GPS dog trackers is their durability, size, and battery life.
Q: What is the best GPS tracker for dogs?
For its excellent battery life, a map system that makes it easy to track your dog, and useful fitness metrics, the Fi Smart Dog Collar is a worthy option for most dogs. If you're looking to upgrade, find out how to recycle electronics.
Q: Are dog GPS trackers worth it?
A dog tracker is a vital investment for anyone with a dog that is prone to running away. It can truly be the difference-maker in finding your dog. It's also a useful device for those who may be looking for a means of tracking their dog's activity in order to improve their health. That said, investing in a GPS tracker and monthly subscription for those with dogs who never stray far from their owners.
Q: How much does a dog GPS tracker cost?
A dog GPS tracker varies in price from about $150 to $200 for the tracker. Most dog GPS trackers also require a subscription, which typically costs around $6 a month.
Q: What is the range of a GPS dog tracker?
Since most dog trackers use satellite technology and a cell service provider to track your dog, they have a range that spans thousands of miles. Those that don't use a cell phone service have ranges of between 3 and 9 miles. Keep in mind that GPS dog trackers do vary in their ability to connect to satellites when under cover of trees or in low-lying areas.
Q: Can you put an Apple AirTag on a dog?
Although Apple does not state that its AirTags should be used as dog trackers, some pet owners have used these devices as an affordable means of tracking their dog. AirTags work by connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology, so they only have a maximum range of 33 feet. However, you can dramatically increase that range, and hence the tag’s tracking ability, by using Apple’s Find My app network. This free service, which uses all Apple smartphones in the area to help you locate an item, can feasibly extend an AirTag’s range well beyond 33 feet. However, the Find My app will only help you locate your dog if there are other smartphones in the vicinity when your pet goes missing.
Q: Can you use dog GPS trackers without subscription?
For GPS trackers that require a subscription, you will only be able to track the GPS device with your smartphone if you pay for that subscription. If you're ready for an upgrade, find out how to recycle electronics.
There are numerous good options when it comes to selecting a dog GPS tracker. Today's tracker not only allows you to locate your dog should they stray from your property. They also serve as valuable fitness trackers that can help you track your dog's exercise and even analyze their behavior to identify potential health problems.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.