Best Dog GPS Trackers: Keeping Track of Your Canine!

Collars & Harnesses

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Ben Team

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best dog gps trackers

About 15 years ago, I spent the better part of two hours testing the emotional limits of pet parenthood.

I was moving some new furniture into my apartment, when I noticed that my chocolate Lab – who never ventured far from my side – was nowhere to be found.

Absolutely terrified, I hit the streets. I called her name, looked under cars and talked to passersby. But she wasn’t anywhere to be found.

I couldn’t bear the thought of my beloved pup roaming the streets alone but there was nothing I could do. I just had to wait and hope she came back.

That is a profoundly powerless feeling that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

As it turns out, she never left in the first place – she was inadvertently shut inside a closet while I was wrestling with a couch or something. I was so relieved, I didn’t even care that I felt like an imbecile for not checking the apartment thoroughly.

She was quite curious why I’d decided to shutter her inside a dark room, but otherwise fine; so, the story has a happy ending. But it could have easily turned out much, much worse. Fortunately, modern technology has given us the tools to prevent this kind of problem from ever happening in the first place.

We’ll explain everything you need to know about dog GPS pet trackers below. We’ll also share some of the most popular units on the market.

What Are GPS Dog Trackers?

GPS dog tracker

GPS dog trackers (or tracking collars) allow you to find your dog when she’s lost. If I’d have had a GPS tracker on my dog, I’d have seen that she was in my apartment, and avoided an ulcer and half as many grey hairs as I have.

There are a few different types of tracking systems available, many of which rely on things other than GPS to find your lost pup; but we’ll get to the techno-talk in a minute.

The average dog-owner will find a GPS dog tracker to be the best option.

Usually, tracking systems consist of a small device that attaches to your dog’s collar and sends out the tracking signal. Most popular units (and each of the units we recommend below) allow you to locate and find your dog by either using a cell phone, tablet or computer. However, some models work with a hand-held receiver.

Most GPS trackers also include a battery charger for the tracker, as well as one for the hand-held reader, if applicable. Some units also incorporate a base station that helps to define your dog’s safe zone. Often, the base station doubles as the charger.

Some GPS dog trackers require you to download an app to your phone, but these are usually free and easy to install. It is, however, important to ensure that the device and app will work with your phone before making a decision – some popular tracking devices are only compatible with one of the major phone operating systems (iOS or Android).

Most GPS tracker services require that you enroll in a monthly service plan (just like for a cell phone). But these costs are usually quite reasonable (less than $10 a month in most cases).

4 Best Dog GPS Trackers For Finding & Tracking Fido!

There are a number of high-quality GPS dog trackers available to modern dog owners, but the following models represent the cream of the crop.

1. Whistle Go Explore

About: The Whistle Go Explore is a GPS tracker that attaches right to your dog’s collar and keeps running for up to 20 days on a single charge. Monitoring everything from step count to calories burned, it’s a powerful device in a relatively compact package, and it earns our vote for the best GPS dog tracker.

Best Overall GPS Tracker
Whistle GPS + Health + Fitness Tracker

A combination pet-tracker-and-health-monitor, this device allows you to keep tabs on your pup, while also setting fitness goals.

Buy on Chewy Buy on Amazon

Features:

  • Tracks your dog’s location with precision and offers updates every fifteen seconds to the Whistle app
  • Works within the US and Canada
  • Includes a built-in safety light for night usage with slow flash, fast flash, and continuous light settings
  • Requires a recurring $8.25 monthly location tracking subscription fee

Pros

  • Provides better tracking of your dog’s location than many other GPS trackers
  • Long battery life offers peace of mind
  • User-friendly setup
  • While a bit bulky, it’s lightweight

Cons

  • Some owners had issues with faulty alerts or readings
  • Customer service leaves room for improvement according to pup parents

2. Tractive GPS Pet Tracker

About: The Tractive GPS Dog Tracker provides peace of mind in the form of real-time location for your four-legged friend. Just log into the Tractive GPS app from your iPhone, Android, or web browser and get live tracking results and location history for your dog.

Best Budget-Friendly GPS Tracker
Tractive GPS Tracker & Health Monitor

A subscription-based GPS tracker and health monitor that's available in three colors and very affordably priced.

Buy on Chewy Buy on Amazon

Features:

  • Set virtual parameters for your dog right from your phone
  • Works globally in over 150 countries
  • Requires a location tracking subscription, starting at $5.00 monthly (yearly plans also available)
  • 100% waterproof, per the manufacturer

Pros

  • Quality results at a bargain price (including affordable subscription options)
  • Owners report that it provides reliable location tracking
  • Secures solidly to your dog’s existing collar 

Cons

  • Battery life was an issue for some pet parents
  • Weak signal problems might be a problem in rural areas

3. Pawfit 3s GPS Tracker

About: The Pawfit 3s GPS Tracker is similar in many ways to other GPS dog trackers, but it provides at least one unique benefit: It gives you the chance to record and play voice commands for your dog (such as your recall cue). This makes the tool good for tracking your pet, as well as long-distance training.

Best GPS Tracker with Voice Recall
Pawfit 3s GPS Tracker

A reasonably priced dog GPS tracker with a unique "voice recall" function, which allows you to speak to your dog from afar.

Buy on Amazon

Features:

  • IP68 waterproof rating helps protect the tracker from moisture.
  • Battery lasts for up to 30 days between charges.
  • You can record as many as 5 voice cues that’ll play through the tracker’s speaker
  • Integrates with Google Maps
  • Subscription plans start at $4.75

Pros

  • We love the recorded voice command feature
  • The subscription is affordable
  • Several owners report that it outperforms other models that cost significantly more

Cons

  • A few owners report that the alarm functions suffer from a delay
  • Some owners complained that the battery life was shorter than advertised

4. Tracki Dog GPS Tracker

About: Small, lightweight, and affordable, the Tracki Dog GPS Tracker is a great pick for many owners. It’s designed to attach to your pet’s existing collar, and because it is so small and light, it makes a great choice for owners of pint-sized puppers.

Best Small & Lightweight GPS Tracker
Tracki Dog GPS Tracker

Weighing only 1 ounce and measuring 1.5 inches in diameter, this is one of the smallest, lightest GPS trackers around.

Buy on Amazon

Features:

  • “Chase Mode” helps find runaway pets by providing updates in 5-second intervals
  • “Community Mode” allows you to track your dog with help from friends and neighbors
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • Subscription plans start at $3.99 (long-term, pre-paid rate)
  • Allows you to set custom alerts that send push-notifications to anyone you like

Pros

  • Owners found the app easy to use and intuitive
  • Light enough to work for very small pets
  • Affordable and provides good value

Cons

  • Owners complain that it isn’t the most durable tracker
  • As with many GPS trackers, battery life drew mixed reviews from owners

Best Dog GPS Tracker Features to Look For

GPS tracker

Not all tracking units – even those relying on similar technology – are created equally. It really pays to take your time and determine the best tracking unit for your needs. It can be difficult to judge the quality of comparable units, but it is relatively simple to compare the features they each possess.

Consider some of the following features when selecting a GPS pet tracker:

  • Waterproof pet trackers are well worth the additional expense, as according to Murphy’s Law, it is all but guaranteed that your dog will decide to escape in a rainstorm.
  • Battery life is critical. You never want to have the tracker’s signal die before you find your pet. While battery life varies with your usage (the more you try to track your pet, the more electricity you use), most high-quality units include batteries that last for three to seven days.
  • Some pet trackers monitor your dog’s activity, vital signs and other interesting and helpful data. This kind of info can help you better understand and care for your pet.
  • Some units power-down when your dog becomes inactive to help prolong battery life. This can be especially helpful for units that don’t have a particularly long-lasting battery.

There’s one other thing you want to think about before buying a GPS dog tracker: the cellular reception in your area.

Many tracking units rely on cell-phone networks, at least in part, to monitor your dog’s movements. Make sure you know which network your GPS tracker uses, and check to ensure that the service (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) provides adequate coverage in your area.

3 Types of Dog Trackers: Radio, Short-Range, and GPS

tracker for dog

GPS trackers aren’t the only show in town; several other technologies are available to keep track of your pup, and it makes sense to look at all of the options available.

The problem is, the alphabet-soup of jargon that pops up in discussions of tracking collars could choke a hippopotamus. This causes many would-be customers to throw up their hands in exhaustion.

But don’t worry – it isn’t that complicated.

There are basically three different types of tracking collars in widespread use: 

  • Radio Collars
  • Short-Range Tracking Colors
  • GPS Collars

Dog GPS trackers tend to be the best choice for the vast majority of pet owners.

If you aren’t interested in learning about these alternative systems, just skip down to GPS dog trackers.

Radio Transmitting Collars

Radio tracking collars are fairly old technology, and although they do excel in some applications, they rarely make sense for the run-of-the-mill dog owner.

  • Radio tracking collars are typically useful for 1 to 5 miles.
  • Weather usually impairs the function of radio collars.
  • They provide only distance and directional data, not a real-time location.
  • Radio collars are useful for dogs and owners living or traveling in remote regions.

Ideal for users who handle dogs for search and rescue, hunt with dogs, or work alongside canines in remote areas that lack adequate satellite coverage or access to cellular networks.

If you think a radio dog collar is the best solution for your pup, consider the Marco Polo Pet Monitoring/Tracking and Locating System. It is a high-quality unit, available at a very reasonable cost.

Short-Range Tracking Collars

These types of collars send a signal from your floof’s dog collar to your smartphone or a dedicated tracking device.

These units typically rely on either RFID (the same technology that allows you to tap your credit card at checkout instead of sliding it through the little slot) or Bluetooth technology to communicate with your phone.

  • These types of short-range collars usually provide only distance and directional data. Instead of viewing your pet’s location on a map as most GPS tracking units allow, the receiver for a short-range tracking collar may say that your dog is 100 yards west of your location, for example.
  • Short-range units are only effective over a relatively short distance – think feet, rather than miles.
  • RFID and Bluetooth units are often the smallest units available.
  • Some units offer a “chirp” function, which allows you to cause your pet’s dog collar to beep audibly.

Ideal for owners who have very small dogs (or cats) who can’t carry a larger tracker comfortably, or those living inside large indoor facilities.

GPS Tracking Collars

GPS tracking collars are a newer solution in the dog-tracking industry, and they rely on the network of global positioning satellites to locate and track your dog.

Many such units also use cell-phone networks to complement their coverage capabilities.

  • GPS trackers are effective anywhere they can contact three separate satellites.
  • Range is rarely an issue with GPS collars – you can track your lost pet from virtually anywhere.
  • Battery life is typically the biggest challenge for these types of collars.
  • GPS trackers rarely work well indoors.
  • These units typically require a monthly location tracking subscription to access the network.

Ideal for average pet-owners who do not live in the Canadian tundra nor intend to use the tracker very often.

If you think a GPS tracking collar is the best solution for your needs, consider any of the models discussed above.

   

It’s important to realize that no GPS tracking system is perfect, so you should always use common sense to keep your dog safe. Don’t think that you can just let your dog roam about unsupervised or that it isn’t a big deal that he escapes all the time, because you have a GPS tracking collar for him.

Alternatively, if you’re just looking to track your dog’s exercise, a dog FitBit might be a better (and more affordable) option. If you want to keep your dog in an enclosed space, invisible dog fences are a nice solution, although most of those systems won’t be able to track your dog if she does manage to escape.

We’d love to hear about the tracking systems you have used. Let us know which ones were great and which ones didn’t live up to expectations. We’d also love to hear your happy reunion stories, so hit us up on Twitter or Facebook, or just scroll down to the comment section below!

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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  1. Steve Zerweck Avatar
    Steve Zerweck

    does any of the gps trackers work in mexico??

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Steve.
      Most GPS trackers should work worldwide. However, I just noticed that a few of these products are no longer available, so I’m working to update the article.
      We’ll indicate the coverage provided when we get everything updated.
      So, check back soon!

  2. Jack Brooks Avatar
    Jack Brooks

    Thanks for this! I have been looking for some time, ever since our Shiloh/King Shepard escaped from the kennel we had her in when we were in Iceland. She managed to jump over a 6 foot fence. The kennel was really great, but can you imagine being in Iceland while your pup is on the run? We decided that if she wasn’t back the next day we would come home. We mobilized a small army of friends and family to help and were so thankful. In the end parking my truck in a field she had been spotted in with the door open lured her back. She stayed with a friend for the rest of our trip. There were many tears. I share this for two reasons:
    1) Most kennels keep the collars off if they are in their controlled space. We really liked this one because the pups each had a massive run they could use as they wished. So even had we had a GLS collar, it wouldn’t have worked, so be warned.
    2) Our little girl is very well trained, so don’t rely entirely on that. They can get spooked, confused or scared and can be unpredictable. In our case, I’m sure she could tell everyone was quite agitated and she thought she was in trouble, and these were all “dog people” so always best to have some kind of backup system.

    I hope none of you ever have to go though anything like this.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, Jack.
      We’re sooooooo glad your story had a happy ending! Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight.
      🙂

  3. John Leonardi Avatar
    John Leonardi

    I have a western bluetick hound and I got him the Dogtra Pathfinder and I am very pleased with it, for the money I spent on it, I should be. He behaves better with it then if he’s on a leash. And he’s free to run in front of me or behind me given the length of the radius I have set on my smartphone. Yes it’s a hunting collar but it’s an awesome tool in training. He’s gotten use to the radius I have set of 100 yards that now I don’t need to use the collar on walks he knows what’s expected from him. When we go in a wooded area or on the farm his hunting instinct kicks in and he goes but I’m able to keep track of him. It’s a lot of looking down at my phone but he’s having a good time and that’s what matters most, he will wonder off and then come back check to see where I am and then off again he goes, which is great on the farm, I’ve used the geo-fence but it just notifies me and not the dog when he leaves the area, wish it was both. Contact with the company is okay if there’s a problems with the unit but that’s expected with all I guess.

    1. Jesse Jones Avatar
      Jesse Jones

      I recently purchased the Fi collar after much research and I ❤️ It! It has real time tracking, geofencing, activity monitoring, waterproof, led light on collar that you can remotely turn on/off, and battery life is great, my baby has been wearing it for five day’s and we are at 76% still!

  4. Jonathan Barns Avatar
    Jonathan Barns

    I am not a spammer or anything else I am just an ordinary dog pet lover I wonder why this tracker is not in your list I am a user of this tracker ever since my dog is a pup and i don’t have an issue with regards to this tracker. If you don’t mind sir i will recommend this product https://trackimo.com/gps-pet-tracker/

    1. Meg Marrs Avatar

      Hi Jonathan – older versions of Trackimo have generally received negative feedback from users, which is why we left them off the list. However, their newer version looks much improved, so we’ll work on adding them to the list!

      1. Nicholas Woods Avatar
        Nicholas Woods

        Hi Meg i am also a trackimo user and i found this tracker quite effective and has a great product quality too. I am looking forward that trackimo will be part of your best dog gps tracker. Thank you so much for this very informative blog i’ll give you a Thumbs up for this.

  5. Paul Avatar
    Paul

    Thanks for this informative read! I didn’t know that there are plenty types of pet trackers.

  6. Sarah Avatar
    Sarah

    I personally prefer using a GPS tracker than a Bluetooth one so I can track my pet anywhere, thanks for this list.

    1. Calix Avatar
      Calix

      Same here, a GPS tracker for a pet has more advantage than using a Bluetooth tracker.

      1. Aesther Avatar
        Aesther

        I got a GPS pet tracking device and must say it’s more effective than the Bluetooth one. I hope Trackimo was part of this list, it works great for me.

  7. Tiffany Avatar
    Tiffany

    I’ve had my GPS tracker for half a year now and it really gives me some peace of mind knowing I can check on my doggo anytime.

  8. Joe Altman Avatar
    Joe Altman

    Whoever tried one of these trackers recommend me one! 😀 I’m okay with trackers not found on this list too.

    1. Shirley Avatar
      Shirley

      I have a Trackimo device for our Saint Bernard, it is perfect for large dogs. He is very calm but at times he likes to wander off our neighborhood.

      1. Nicole Avatar
        Nicole

        I had few choices for a pet tracker but I’m glad to have bought a Trackimo device too. Our family has a very playful golden retriever that loves to run around and chase small animals off. I don’t him to wander off far from our home. This tracking device really works best. I’ve set up a virtual fence that when he gets past the area I’ll receive alerts.

        1. Meg Marrs Avatar

          Thanks for the info! Trackimo doesn’t have the best reputation on Amazon, but it’s always good to hear about an owner’s personal experience.

          1. Zoe Salinas Avatar
            Zoe Salinas

            I have one too, and it had earned a great reputation for me.

      2. Donna Avatar
        Donna

        What I like about the Trackimo is its battery seeming to last a few days longer than other tracking devices.

  9. Jese B. Avatar
    Jese B.

    My dog loves to play in our lawn and he chases animals that sometimes he wanders off. Getting a gps tracker will be so helpful I’ll be trying one of these.

  10. Jill Avatar
    Jill

    RIPPED OFF/POOR TECH SERVICES BY LINK AKC!

    We bought the Link AKC GPS collar to be able to keep track of our dog while we are not with her. We had nothing but trouble with the device, so we turned to their Technical Services Group. Not only did they not return calls, as promised, but they were totally inept at figuring out what was wrong with the device! Also, the beautiful collar was peeling in a few days.

    One day, the device just shut itself off and would not come back on. They even offered to give me 2 months of free service. After 4 days, calls NOT returned, and multiple calls, they gave up and offered to replace it. Once the new device arrived, it would not link to my network. The reason??? They were too lazy or stupid to enter the device’s ID number so it could be recognized. Two days and multiple calls later, I gave up.

    We paid upfront for one year of monitoring, so with the free time and the fact that the device only worked for maybe 2 weeks while they screwed around trying the troubleshoot the issues, I expected a full refund for the service. When I got my bill, they had deducted 2 months for service. My call to Customer Service was a COMPLETE JOKE. They said they do not refund for used time. THERE WAS NO USED TIME. The darned thing was mostly broken. Every time I reminded them of that, they would repeat that they do not refund for used time.

    So…here I am warning you NOT to waste your money!! I have changed over to the Whistle 3 and we will see what happens.

    1. Meg Marrs Avatar

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience Jill. Sorry to hear that things didn’t work out with Link and I hope Whistle works better for you!

  11. Fred Palm Avatar
    Fred Palm

    Ben,

    A pleasure to read. Simple and well done is a tough call. You done well.

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