Best GPS Dog Collars & Trackers of 2020 – Expert Picks
One of the greatest fears of the masters is undoubtedly losing their pet, especially when it is a tad runaway.
Seeing your dog disappear without ever knowing what happened to it is a particularly frightening situation, but also unfortunately very common.
In fact, the GPS dog tracker is the best friend of owners concerned that they can always keep an eye on the geographical position of their companion.
It is however important to distinguish GPS plotters from radio trackers which do not work in the same way and therefore do not offer the same services.
To choose your GPS tracker and know the market prices, here is an article on this accessory well known to runaway dog owners.
Equipping pets with tags or tags is one way to ensure their safe return in case they get lost on vacation or get away from home, but you can push the dog safety on another level – with portable pet technology. Portable pet devices, such as GPS collars, allow parents of pets to locate their dog (and even monitor their activity) wherever they are.
How do these GPS pet trackers work? A GPS chip in the tracker acquires the position of your animal and sends the information to the Internet and to your smartphone mainly via cellular coverage. Usually an application is used to display the position of your animal on a map. Base stations are commonly used to link the tracking, which is attached to your dog’s collar, and your smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Some smart collars also monitor more than your baby’s location, but they do monitor activity and sleep patterns like a “Fitbit for Pets”.
What is a GPS dog tracker?
A GPS dog tracker is a small device that is attached to the collar or harness of the animal in order to know its position in real time.
GPS trackers work using mobile networks, and you can usually track your dog’s movement using your cell phone, tablet, or a screen that comes with the device.
In fact, this type of system works with a subscription necessary to obtain access to the mobile networks through which the location data sent by the GPS will pass.
Some tracers have more features, including alerting you when your dog crosses boundaries you previously set, or speaking and listening to your pet with a microphone.
GPS trackers vs Dog radio trackers
GPS trackers should not be confused with radio trackers, which are also devices that are attached to the animal’s collar to receive indications of its position.
Radio trackers, unlike GPS, work by radio waves and cannot communicate through mobile networks.
They are less expensive than GPS plotters, but also less precise and have a much smaller range.
Generally, radio trackers are preferred by cat owners who tend to move less from their homes than dogs.
To find an animal equipped with a radio beacon, you generally have to brandish a receiver box in the direction where your animal should be, then let yourself be guided to the rhythm of the beep or the light signal it emits.
GPS trackers allow them to track the movements of your animal on a map (like Google Map), in real time and without any range limit.
Why buy a GPS tracker for your dog?
The GPS tracker serves only one and only objective: that of never losing your beloved animal!
This accessory is particularly useful for runaway dogs, and in particular non-castrated males who are more inclined to take off in search of a female or to join a playmate.
GPS trackers are perfect for allowing masters to locate their animals in real time and find them immediately when they have disappeared on a ride or while they were in their garden.
This is all the more important as the more the hours pass, the more a missing animal is likely to be injured, to get lost more deeply or to be picked up by the pound.
Unfortunately, a number of dogs are knocked down on the roads each year after having lost themselves in chasing a rabbit or straying a little too far from their owners.
In fact, GPS trackers also make accessories of choice for hunters whose dogs are more likely to get lost when they are obsessed with a track or too focused on their game to listen to their owners.
Whistle 100-04203-00 Go Explore
With customization notifications, health monitoring, and a fairly long battery life, the Whistle 3 has become one of the most ubiquitous dog trackers on the market.
Touting immense popularity in the pet-care community, the Whistle 3 has become known as the go-to pet tracker for most people’s needs. Rather than rely solely on Bluetooth like many other units do, the Whistle combines cell and GPS data to help you keep tabs on your dog. This combined approach gives the device a maximum functioning range of ~3,000 miles. (If your K9 is able to get more than 3,000 miles away before you find her, maybe it’s time to let her spread her wings and fly the coop.)
Aside from monitoring the dog’s location, the Whistle is able to monitor activity and create health profiles. While these are less sophisticated than the device’s tracking abilities, it’s nice to be able to receive analyses of Mini’s sleep and activity levels over time. These reports can be especially useful when utilized as preventative healthcare tools to catch changes in behavior that could be early signals of illness.
The unit itself is easy to use. Once everything’s all set up, all you have to do is sync it to your phone, affix it to a collar, and voila. Like most of these trackers, the Whistle does require regular charging, but the battery can last up to 7 days, so this isn’t too much of a drag.
- Waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 min
- Create custom “safe places”
- Lightweight and unobtrusive
- Requires a monthly subscription plan
- Won’t work well in remote locations
Tile Pro (2020) – 2 Pack
Featuring unique crowd-sourcing tracking abilities, the Tile Pro is a great choice for city dwellers.
The Tile Pro isn’t just a tracker for dogs — people use it to keep tabs on all sorts of things, like keys, wallets, and phones. The small, sleek unit attaches to a key ring that you can place on your dog’s collar. It then utilizes Bluetooth to do its tracking. The drawback of this is that its range is only 400 ft. Now, if you’re a landowner with a large yard and big expanses of land, the Tile Pro clearly isn’t for you. But if you live in an apartment complex, or live in an otherwise highly-populated area, it’ll work well. Why? Well, the limited wireless range renders the device pretty useless on its own, because if your dog is lost, chances are you’ve already scoured the 400-foot radius that the Tile would be able to locate it within.
However, here’s the cool part. Using Tile’s proprietary Community Find feature in the app, you can anonymously alert everyone on the Tile network that your Tile-tagged dog is lost. If there are many other Tile users in the area, as soon as your dog comes within their Tile’s range, they’ll be able to see it. This crowd-sourcing tracking method becomes more reliable as more people use it, of course, which is why its best use is in a city.
- Replaceable battery has a long life
- Durable design
- Looks quite stylish
- A bit too bulky for small dogs
- Loop can get caught on branches and the like
Eureka Technology MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring
No subscription fees, no internet needed, no nonsense. This one assures you that, even if you can’t see him, Fido is indeed somewhere in the yard.
So maybe you’re not a city dweller, and maybe you’re not suburban, either. For those of us living in rural environments, here’s an option that doesn’t rely on the internet, crowd-sourcing, or subscription-based wireless technologies. The Eureka Technology MarcoPolo is a standalone, totally self-contained tracker that’s ideal for rural or off-grid situations. This one doesn’t need a cell network or any GPS signal, and it’s incredibly simple to use, too.
It works by utilizing radio frequency technology, essentially turning it into something of a personal radar system. The company estimates the unit’s range at about 2 miles, which isn’t immense, but it’s particularly useful for preventative monitoring. While you’re in the house, doing chores or enjoying your free time, the MarcoPolo will give you peace of mind, knowing that your furry friend is within the two mile radius.
After attaching the tracking tag, all you need to do is push a single button on the device to begin searching for your pup’s location. The tag itself comes equipped with a rechargeable battery that can last up to 6 weeks of continual use. If you’re not impressed with the product, Eureka offers a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
- Single system can expand to track up to 3 pets
- Instructions are clear and well-written
- Extremely rugged build
- Great for hikers and outdoors adventurers
- Not responsive enough for moment-to-moment precision
Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker Free of Monthly Fees
Similar to the MarcoPolo but less than half the cost, the Findster Duo+ allows you to let your dog be a dog without worrying about his whereabouts.
Here’s another radio-frequency based, non-subscription option for you. Its 3-mile range is a bit larger than Eureka’s MarcoPolo, but it doesn’t work as well in densely populated areas, where you should expect a radius of something closer to 1 mile, or even half a mile. And when compared to the MarcoPolo, the Findster Duo+ is certainly not as sturdy. Sure, it’s rated as waterproof and shock-resistant, but it’s pretty low on the relative grading scale for both of these. Still, it’s much cheaper, and works pretty similarly. The Duo+’s companion app is something the MarcoPolo lacks, and the app itself is quite useful. Aside from serving as a live monitoring tool, the app stores historical tracking info of your pooch, so you can observe patterns over time.
- Location updates every few seconds
- App receives frequent updates
- Doesn’t work well indoors
- Performance is affected by weather
- Charging port is a bit wonky
Frequently Asked Questions
How do GPS trackers work?
This depends on what kind of tracker you buy. Some, like the Whistle, require a subscription. With this, you’re essentially paying to activate the device’s ability to communicate with cellular networks (in the Whistle’s case, AT&T), just like your phone’s GPS does. On the other hand, units like the MarcoPolo and the Findster Duo+ subvert this reliance upon network connectivity, opting instead for radio frequency comms. Finally, the Tile utilizes Bluetooth technology and relies upon crowd-sourced tracking in the case of a missing dog. Each of these systems has its advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll have to decide which one is right for your needs.
What should I look for in a GPS tracker for my dog?
This varies depending on your budget, location, and reason for using it. But typically the most important factors are the battery life of the device, its range, and its size/comfort level. The last one is rarely talked about it, but remember that whatever device you choose will probably be clipped to your dog’s neck 24/7, so buying your friend a comfortable unit is not only thoughtful, it’s the right thing to do.
Aside from this, you’ll choose depending on the features each one offers. Sure, it might be nice to have the ability to track up to 3 dogs, but if Buddy’s your one and only, then what good does that do you? On the other hand, some units may have features you’ll come to appreciate after the fact. The Whistle 3, with its fitness tracking capabilities, is a good example.
At the end of the day, though, it all comes back to how well it can track your dog, how long it lasts, and how expensive it is.
How to choose your GPS dog tracker?
GPS dog trackers can include many features, which varies the prices from 60 to 800 euros.
Please note: you will find many products sold as GPS dog trackers at very low prices, from $ 10 or $ 15.
These are, for the vast majority, radio trackers and not GPS: read the description so as not to end up with a product that has nothing to do with what you are looking for.
Each category of dog is entitled to the collar it needs. The special GPS collar for a companion dog is not the same as that for a hunting dog. The latter has features you may not even need. The special GPS collar for companion has been specially designed to adapt to the rhythm of life of your dog, to follow him on a wide ground during his walks and to have a long range if unfortunately he starts to run away. So you will have no trouble using it and your dog will feel comfortable wearing it.
The main advantage is the price. The value for money of a special GPS collar for companion dogs is correct. Special GPS collars for companion dogs are easier to use than those for hunting dogs. As the manufacturers target average users, the device has been adapted so as not to require specific skills. Certain types of collars can stay around your dog’s neck 24 hours a day without risk. So it can replace the traditional necklace and you can keep an eye on it at all times. Finally, you have a wide range of choices, whether in terms of power supply and therefore autonomy, robustness or even colors.
The first drawback is the lack of additional functionality. This does not give you access to optimal use of the machine. These necklaces were not designed for professional use, so they are less efficient, especially in terms of precision. In general, you have a location perimeter and not precise geographic data. It may also be that the dog has already moved and you are not notified until several seconds or minutes later, depending on the model. GPS collars for companion dogs often work via GSM network . If you are in an area with poor reception, the device will not function as it should. It is the same for the internet signal, some necklaces only work on 3G.
Height and weight
Depending on the size of your dog, you will have to opt for a more or less light tracer in order to avoid hampering your animal in its movements.
Nowadays, with the ever increasing miniaturization of electronic devices, this is rarely a problem, because there are GPS on the market that can even be attached to cat collars.
This will however be a point to take into account, because if you can attach a device of a few hundred grams to the collar of a Labrador, this will not be possible for a miniature Chihuahua…
If the radio trackers have batteries that can last several days, the GPS collars have a more limited capacity, ranging from ten hours to a day or two.
Indeed, the plotters send signals to your phone, tablet or digital screen constantly, which requires their batteries continuously.
Some models are however delivered with two batteries, which allows you to always have one in charge to replace the one in use as soon as it weakens.
In fact, if you are looking for a GPS tracker to place on your dog’s collar only when you go for a walk, you can choose a model with a less efficient battery.
On the other hand, if you intend to leave the GPS hanging on your dog’s collar all day to prevent possible runaways, a battery with better autonomy will be required.
Also, it should be noted that the battery accounts for a lot in the weight of the device: the most autonomous GPS trackers are therefore the heaviest!
The cost of the subscription
GPS trackers require a subscription to mobile networks to allow you to receive the location data they transmit.
Make sure that the product of your choice is “any operator”, and that the subscription covers the whole of territory and possibly abroad according to your needs.
Some GPS trackers are sold with a one-year subscription included in the purchase price, so do not rely on offers allegedly without a subscription: it’s a safe bet that you will have to pay monthly at one time or another.
Generally, the cost of the subscription to pay to use a GPS tracker is between 2 $ to 10 $ per month.
Impact and water resistance
For dogs more than for cats, it is necessary to choose a model of tracer which resists splashing, or even complete immersion.
Some GPS trackers have microphones that allow you to talk to your pet from a distance, and even teach him to return to the foot through this.
Others have two-way microphones, which means you can both talk to your dog and hear what’s going on around him.
The applications provided with certain GPS trackers also allow you to implement some extremely practical settings for monitoring your dog from a distance.
On some devices, you can thus develop a dematerialized barrier, which consists of defining the boundaries of the sector from which your dog is not supposed to leave.
In fact, when it crosses these intangible borders, you will automatically receive an alert on your mobile phone to inform you of its movement.
If you have a rowdy puppy that never seems to stay still, you want a pet tracker that has good battery experience. Most trackers allow you to select different modes depending on whether you are hiking, dog park or just at home. The difference between the settings is the frequency with which the tracker records the location of your animal and the frequency with which it sends you alerts.
Tracks that offer real-time tracking are updated every 30 seconds. So you have a continuous stream of notifications about your pet’s location. It’s a cool feature, especially if you have a runner, but it quickly reduces battery life. If you want to use live tracking often, look for a pet GPS tracker with rock star reviews for active battery life.
Location tracking accuracy
We have already mentioned that GPS plotters offer the greatest accuracy in determining position. However, understand that this remains subject to various factors. Fortunately, adding cellular connectivity can significantly improve accuracy.
Notification and alert system
Don’t just receive notifications only on your smartphone. The more you can send notifications and alerts, the better for you and your doggie.
What price for a GPS dog tracker?
If you decide to acquire a GPS tracker to monitor your dog’s movements, chances are you will soon be able to do without it.
Being able to locate your dog in real time is both extremely reassuring for the owner and very safe for the dog.
However, beware of products that are slow to operate without a subscription or offer very low prices.
Very often these are radio trackers and not GPS plotters, which will not give you the same functionality at all.
And you ?
Are you looking for a GPS tracker for your dog, or have you already tested this device to keep an eye on it?
Ask us your questions or tell us about your experiences in the comments!