As much as you want to keep your dog close to you and ensure they are safe, the truth is that it is not always possible, especially if you have an escape artist who manages to free themselves all the time.
Also, there will be times that you will let your canine off-leash to provide them with a little bit more freedom. That also means your curious pup will potentially stray away to explore.
In fact, according to the American Humane Association, roughly 10 million pets are lost in the US each year and end up in the nation’s animal shelters. Of those, only 15% of dogs without ID tags or microchips reunite with their owners.
Thankfully, with the help of a dog GPS tracker, you can keep tabs on your furry friend’s whereabouts and have the ability to locate them and keep them safe when they are out of your sight.
Here you will find the 9 top-rated GPS trackers for dogs in 2021.
Our Top Picks for the Cellular Dog Collar GPS Trackers
Best Overall Performance - Whistle Go Explore GPS Pet Tracker
Whistle was founded in 2012 and is a subsidiary of Mars Petcare, which has operated for over 100 years. And Whistle has gained its popularity for providing high-quality smart GPS trackers for pets.
Whistle Go Explore is a smart device that can help you quickly locate your dog with real-time location tracking using AT&T network and Google maps, which means it requires a subscription. It also features geofencing that will alert you by email, text, or app when your dog leaves the designated place.
The Go Explore goes beyond tracking location. You can set fitness goals for your dog and have a 24-hour timeline that provides you with a breakdown of how they spent their time so that you know whether they have gone outside or just stayed home.
Additionally, you can also use the nutrition calculator to ensure you are feeding your dog the right portion of food based on the breed, age, and exercise level. Another important feature it has is the health monitoring that will tell you if there is any irregular behavior like excessive scratching and licking. This information is valuable as it could be the signs or symptoms of any potential health issues.
There is also an in-built beacon light that you can switch on using the app, making it easier for you to spot your dog at night. It has an extended battery life that can last up to 20 days, but this depends on how you use it. If you are a heavy user, it could probably last up to 5 to 10 days. This GPS tracker is a great all-in-one device that allows you to do lots of things from tracking your pooch’s location to monitoring their health.
Link AKC is a pet tech company that has won the “Best of Innovation” award at CES 2017 in the Wearable Technology category.
The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar is one of the best dog GPS tracking collars on the market and has nationwide coverage in the United States. Like any other smart device, it requires service plan connectivity to trace your dog and features virtual fences to notify yourself when your canine leaves the safe zone.
This smart collar works like a dog smartphone, which can consolidate vet records, set reminders, and has precise activity tracking. It also monitors the temperature surrounding your dog and will notify you if it is too hot or too cold for them.
This good looking GPS tracker has a battery life of up to 3 days with regular use. It is water-resistant and impact-resistant. You can also turn on the in-built LED light to provide added visibility and have sound features to help with training.
Best for Budget - Tractive 3G GPS Dog Tracker
Tractive is an Austrian company that prides itself on developing affordable real-time GPS trackers for pets.
The Tractive 3G GPS Tracker allows you to trace your dog live on your smartphone or any browser. You will need to have an ongoing subscription to use 3G cellular technology to pinpoint the location correctly. And of course, you can also create a virtual fence to keep your dog safe by instantly being notified if they leave the defined area.
Not to mention, it has worldwide coverage, meaning there is no range limit, and you can track your dog anytime, regardless if you are home or overseas. With the location history feature, it will show you where your dog has been. And that allows you to provide your dog training if they went to the places that you don’t want them to be.
Not only the Tractive 3G GPS tracker is waterproof and lightweight, but also budget-friendly and is effective at tracking location. If you are on a budget, you may want to consider this.
Most Lightweight - Bartun GPS Pet Tracker
If you want a GPS tracker that doesn’t restrict your dog’s activities, look no further than the Bartun GPS Pet Tracker.
This gadget is another tracker that needs a subscription plan to provide you with real-time location tracking. That also means you can monitor your dog remotely as long as you have cellular coverage. And with the historical data you can get from the app, you will be able to see where your dog has been.
This GPS tracker only weighs 20.6g and is pretty small, designed to ensure it is comfortable to wear without putting too much pressure on your fido. It has an IP67 waterproof rating and is shockproof to make sure it is sturdy, and allows your dog to play freely in any environment. Also, it will alert you when it is low in battery.
Our Top Picks for the Non Cellular Dog Collar GPS Trackers
Best Overall Performance - Garmin Astro 430/ T5 Dog Tracking Bundle
Garmin was founded in 1989 and is one of the biggest companies in GPS navigation. Due to their development in wearable technology, they now have GPS trackers for dogs.
With this tracking bundle, you will have the ability to track up to 20 dogs at a time with a range of up to 9 miles. And is capable of tracking your pup in a wooded area thanks to its high sensitivity GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) satellite reception. It also has a 2.5 seconds update rate to provide you with a more accurate location tracking.
Additionally, it includes preloaded TOPO U.S. 100k mapping, which covers the finer points of the outdoors, such as terrain contours, summits, and rivers. Not to mention, it is water-resistant and long-lasting due to the durable materials used for construction.
It also features the hunting metrics to help analyze your dog’s hunting behavior and patterns, which will show you the distances traveled and an overall score. Plus, capturing the number of times of “on point” or “treed”, making this one of the best hunting dog tracking systems on the market.
The Astro 430 and T5 Dog Tracking Bundle doesn’t require a monthly subscription, meaning no cellular coverage is needed. An excellent option if you hit the trail a lot with your four-legged friend and love hunting, especially in a challenging environment.
Runner-Up Overall Performance - Petfon GPS Pet Tracker
The Petfon GPS Tracker has a better quality and performance than the Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker. It uses the technology that combines GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and long-distance transmission to locate your dog’s position and track their activity in real-time.
It can track up to 0.65 miles in congested areas and 3.5 miles in an open space. It also has other great features like geofencing, multi-color lights, and customizable voice, allowing you to communicate with your dog and locate them in a low-light environment, ultimately keeping them safe.
The Petfon GPS tracker can track up to 3 pets. It is lightweight, dustproof and rainproof to minimize the impact on the performance under light rain or bad weather. If you don’t feel like paying for a monthly subscription, you might want to consider this.
Best Affordable - Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
Findster incorporated in 2016 and became one of the fastest-growing pet tech companies after the release of real-time trackers without a monthly subscription.
The Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker uses MAZE technology to communicate between the 2 modules wirelessly to do the work and have an in-built radar in the app to show you where your dog is situated.
It allows you to track up to 3 dogs and monitor their activities. Like other smart GPS trackers, you will have the ability to create virtual fences and share the location with your friends and family.
It also works everywhere in the world. However, you can’t monitor remotely, and the range performance will depend on your surroundings like the weather and how dense the area is. It is capable of tracking up to 0.5 miles in urban areas and 3 miles in an open field.
This tracker is very lightweight, shockproof, and waterproof. The rechargeable battery can last up to 7 days and has an LED to display the module’s connection status. If you have a tight budget and only want a one-off payment dog GPS tracker, look no further than the Duo+ Pet Tracker.
Best for Multi Days Use - Eureka Technology MARCOPOLO Advanced Pet Monitoring, Tracking and Locating System
The Marco Polo uses radio frequency to track your dog. It works like a radar that scans the surrounding area and sends the signal to the tag that you put on your dog. When you are in range, the handheld locator will point you to the tag displayed on the screen. The closer you are, the stronger the signal.
It weighs 22.7g and can track up to 2 miles depending on your surroundings. Not only that, but the Marco Polo can operate in extreme environments, given that it is waterproof, and the tracking tag is crush-resistant. If you love multi-day trips, this will be great for you as it uses patented technology, which the battery can last up to 6 weeks without recharging.
Best for Training - SportDOG TEK 2.0 Series GPS Tracking System
The SportDog TEK 2.0 series can track up to 21 dogs and 10 miles long, one of the longest range non-cellular trackers on the market.
It is pre-loaded with 100k TOPO maps with unlimited lifetime map updates. Also, it uses similar tracking technology to the Garmin Astro 430/ T5 Dog Tracking Bundle, which combines GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) to give you a more precise location when tracing your dog.
The collar receiver is waterproof up to 25 feet and has a 3-second update rate. The rechargeable batteries can last up to 24 hours for the collar and 12 hours for the handheld unit. You will also have the ability to set geofences to ensure safety.
And with the voice update, it will tell you the direction your dog is heading, how far, and how fast they are without looking at the screen. Not only can it track your pooch, but it also has 99 continuous or momentary stimulation levels, vibration, and tone options for training purposes.
Bluetooth Tracking Devices? Can They Keep My Dog Safe?
You notice we didn’t recommend any devices that solely rely on Bluetooth. While they may seem like a good option given their prices are way lower, they have a short tracking range. For instance, the popular Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker can only track up to 200 feet, which most dogs can easily run out of that range in just a matter of minutes.
And that is not something that you would want, especially when out on a hike. Not to mention, you will usually get a delay notification, meaning even if you manage to get to the place where your pup was at, they would’ve been gone by the time you get there.
Features to Consider When Buying the Best dog GPS Tracker
I’m sure you have already done a lot trying to protect and keep your furry friend safe, especially when going on hikes, like keeping them on the leash, putting hiking boots on them to protect their feet, or even letting them wear a dog backpack to build up their stamina.
And if you haven’t had a dog GPS tracker already, it is a good idea to get one as it offers even more protection. That said, there are a few things you need to consider when it comes to choosing the best dog GPS tracker, and below are some of them.
1. Cellular Coverage vs No Cellular Coverage
Depending on the area that you live in or the trail you are taking, some areas may not have network coverage. If that is the case for you, picking a dog GPS tracker that works without cellular may be a better option.
Also, if you love letting your four-legged friend run off-leash, particularly in a no-signal environment, and they are very energetic that always runs out of your sight, consider the ones with a long tracking range like the Garmin Astro 430/ T5 Dog Tracking Bundle or SportDOG TEK 2.0 Series. That way, you will be able to keep tabs on them at all times.
The benefits of a cellular GPS tracker is, of course, the unlimited tracking range. Not only that, but lots of them also give you the ability to store vet records, and like the Whistle Go Explore, even allow you to monitor your fido’s behavior, ensuring that they are in tip-top shape.
The flip side of it is that it requires a monthly subscription and can only operate when you have the network coverage. And note that if you are going to get a cellular GPS tracker, make sure they are compatible with your phone’s operating system like IOS and Android.
2. Tracking Range and Accuracy
Another feature you need to consider is the tracking range and accuracy. While most cellular GPS trackers should have unlimited range, non-cellular trackers don’t. And that’s why you have to pay attention to this as you need to be able to pinpoint their location, which is also the main reason for getting the device.
A waterproof GPS tracker is also crucial as you want the device to be in a working condition and allow you to locate your pup if they decide to jump into the water or, if unfortunate, that both you and your dog are caught in an unexpected rain.
4. Weight and Safety
Often we will forget how the weight of the gear can make it uncomfortable for our furry friend. So, ensure to take a look at how heavy the tracker is, and it is also imperative to choose a lightweight dog GPS tracker, especially when going on a hike as you don’t want to overburden them.
Also, keep in mind that the dog GPS tracker emits radiation. For this reason, it may be better to use it only when you go hiking with your pooch or when necessary to minimize the exposure to the radiation. That said, there are no findings on how dangerous they can be to a dog’s health.
5. Other Features
Other features like geofence, audible check-in, and activity and health monitoring are relatively important. They will allow you to communicate with your furry friend and ensure they are safe. It is also great to have a long battery life if you love extended or multi-day hikes.
Best Dog GPS Trackers
Do I Still Need a GPS Tracker if My Dog is Microchipped?
Yes, we would recommend you to get one even if your four-legged friend has the microchip embedded under their skin. The reason is that the person who found your dog won’t know your contact details without the help of veterinarians or shelters reading the microchip.
Do All Dog Collar GPS Trackers Require a Monthly Subscription?
No. It depends on which GPS tracker you choose. There are two main types of dog tracking devices on the market, cellular and non-cellular. Cellular trackers will undoubtedly need a monthly subscription as they rely on the Wi-Fi to give you your dog’s live location. Non-cellular trackers, on the other hand, don’t need a service plan as they typically have a map pre-loaded into the device and use their unique technology or radio frequency that allows both modules to communicate with each other.
Are Cellular GPS Trackers Better Than Non-Cellular GPS Trackers?
No, not necessarily. Both types have their pros and cons. Cellular GPS trackers are especially useful if the area you live in or places you plan to take your dog to has internet coverage. And often, they allow you to do more than just pinpointing locations, which you will have the ability to monitor your dog’s activity and behavior. But remember, they won’t work without Wi-Fi. Meaning if you are going on hikes with your pup in a heavily wooded area with no 4G coverage, this type of tracking device is pretty much useless.