What to Look for in a GPS Dog Tracker in 2022
Many products on the market promise to track your pets if they go missing. Some are specifically designed to track pets, while others are general tracking devices. The right type of tracker depends on your use case, but we’ve only included trackers that use GPS technology to track your dog.
Devices such as Apple AirTags are not included because they do not use GPS technology for positioning. GPS trackers are more expensive and have a shorter battery life than a Bluetooth tracker, but you get instant and accurate location information for your pet.
When it comes to battery life, GPS trackers can vary significantly from device to device. Some of this depends on the size of the tracker, which affects the size of the battery, but additional features like Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity usually mean the device needs more power. Some trackers, such as those used with hunting dogs, only offer half a day of battery life. General purpose GPS trackers may need to be charged every few days.
Then there are two general types of GPS trackers. The first consists of a mobile modem and a SIM card. GPS is a one-way network, so there needs to be a way to send these coordinates back to the dog’s owner.
Using mobile data is generally the best way, as mobile coverage is generally great. However, these services almost always have a subscription fee, which usually quickly dwarfs what you spend on the viewer itself.
The second type of viewer does not have a cellular modem and in most cases does not require a subscription. Instead, the tracker uses the radio to communicate with the unit you’re holding. The disadvantage of these radio trackers is that you are usually limited to a range of only a few miles.
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Radio trackers are used with working dogs in hunting, search and rescue, or any situation where you are close to dogs but can’t always keep your eyes off them. A tracker or tracking collar is only half the cost because you also have to buy a receiver. However, receivers can usually track more than one dog, so there’s no need to buy more than one.
In addition to basic tracking, many dog trackers, regardless of type, have additional features. For example, Geofencing is a common added feature on these trackers and can alert you when an animal leaves a certain area. There may be apps that can track your dog’s behavior and fitness activities.
There may be other technologies besides GPS to increase the accuracy of the tracker so that you can determine the exact direction of the animal as you approach the GPS coordinates. Whether or not these extra features are worth paying for depends on why you want a tracker in the first place.
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a GPS dog tracker, here are the top five today.
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- ✓ Good price
- ✓ Works with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Viaero USA
- ✓ Works with any collar
- ✓ It works worldwide
- ✓ Waterproof
- ✗ Requires subscription
The Tractive LTE GPS Dog Tracker is probably the most fully featured tracker you can buy. It offers live tracking as long as the dog is within mobile coverage, location history and a virtual fence, so you’ll be notified if your pet runs away or is stolen.
One very impressive feature is compatibility with almost all carriers in the US and carriers in over 150 countries around the world. So, if you’re going abroad, just pick up a compatible SIM card at your destination and never worry about losing your pet in a foreign country.
In addition to having almost all the features anyone needs, the Tractive is waterproof and rugged. Your dog has problems wading through the river or rolling in the mud.
Battery life is also great, lasting up to 6 days according to users. On-demand subscriptions start at $5 per month, which isn’t the highest we’ve seen. As long as you don’t mind paying a subscription, this is a great tracker for your dog.
Overall the best GPS dog tracker
Pull-on waterproof GPS dog tracker
The Tractive is everything you could want in a GPS dog tracker. From the worldwide coverage to the waterproof design, this is the perfect tracker for most users.
Best small GPS dog tracker: Jiobit
- ✓ Very small
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Smart features like geofencing and location-based alerts
- ✓ Bluetooth for proximity tracking
- ✗ Subscription required
- ✗ Depending on your pet, additional attachment accessories may be required
- ✗ expensive
The Jiobit tracker has several features that set it apart from the pack. It’s significantly smaller than most of the competition, so if you have a small dog or cat, this is a lightweight and comfortable option for them.
Despite being so small, it has better battery life than other large trackers. Jiobit rates up to two weeks of battery life, which is at least twice as long as other GPS trackers we’ve seen. Jiobit also offers geofencing, movement history, and more on its Android and iPhone apps. It has many smart features including
Jiobit makes heavy use of Bluetooth technology. If your pet is close enough to a registered sitter, you can track them via Bluetooth instead of GPS. If your pet gets lost, it can also use Bluetooth signal strength as a more accurate indication of the dog’s distance from you.
Jiobit’s tracker is waterproof (not waterproof) and will work with almost any collar, although you may need to buy additional attachment accessories depending on what you want to clip it on. The device requires a subscription, but at least for mobile service it doesn’t need a SIM card.
The data plan includes international data, so you can take your dog overseas to a supported country and not have to do anything special to track them. Subscriptions start at $15 for a month-to-month plan, but get progressively cheaper if you take out a longer contract. A 6-month contract costs $13 per month and a 2-year contract will cost you $9 per month.
- ✓ No subscription
- ✓ It combines various wireless technologies for real-time tracking
- ✗ No mobile connection, must be within range of dog
- ✗ Relatively limited range
- ✗ Battery life may be too short for some
- ✗ High initial cost
The Petfon GPS tracker is a non-mobile device that uses proprietary long-range radio technology to track your dog anywhere from 0.65 miles to 3.5 miles, depending on the terrain.
This tracker should not be used when you are away from home or unsupervised. Instead, it’s a tracker that you attach to your dog’s collar before you leave the house and go for a walk. You have a controller unit that you keep on you and that connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone.
Its battery life is rated between eight and sixteen hours. You’ll also get a portable charging case for travel, which can juice up the tracker up to three times. So if you start with a fully juiced tracker, you’ll have enough power until the next time you top it up.
Finally, the unit is waterproof and rugged, and features a buzzer and lights to help locate your pet when you’re close but can’t see them.
The biggest downside of the Petron tracker is its price tag of $220. But even though it is expensive, you can save in the long run if you consider the lack of subscription fees.
PETFON Pet GPS Tracker
Traditional local radio based on the best smartphone viewer features "dumb" A great local tracker that connects with; followers.
- ✓ No stand-alone device, internet or phone required
- ✓ 4 miles away
- ✓ There is no subscription fee
- ✓ LED Lights
- ✓ Water resistance up to 10 meters
- ✗ Garmin tracker required, price increases
- ✗ Not a smart device
- ✗ For small dogs only
The Garmin T5 Mini is a version of the company’s popular standard T5 collar. The T5 Mini is designed for smaller dogs, with a more compact size and a slightly smaller price tag of $249. The T5 is bigger and has better battery life and range, but it’s $299. What you get will largely depend on the size of your dog.
Tracking range is up to four miles for the T5 Mini. The standard T5 offers a range of 9 miles, which makes sense since large dogs can travel more in less time than smaller dogs. The collars also have lights visible from 100 yards and are rugged and water resistant to 10 meters.
These trackers from Garmin are designed for outdoor sports or work that involves dogs. They are local followers and do not have mobile connectivity. Instead, the collar connects to a controller unit carried by the dog’s handler. The receiver is a separate purchase, so keep in mind that the price is here only for the viewer.
Speaking of which, there are several receivers you can use, but none of them are cheap. Garmin Alpha 10, which can track up to 20 T5 or TT15 dog collars and costs $400. The Alpha 200i sells for $750.
But keep in mind that these products are for the world of serious, multi-dog tracking in rough conditions, so the price will be higher than the average GPS tracker. If you use dogs for any serious purpose, a Garmin system is worth the investment.
Garmin T5 Mini GPS Collar
The T5 Mini is the gold standard for professional multi-dog tracking over four miles. No subscription, no smartphone. You will need to invest in a tracking unit and large dogs should get the standard T5.
- ✓ It is also very cheap
- ✓ Battery life between 10 and 60 days
- ✓ Geo-fencing alerts
- ✗ Collar clips are an additional purchase
- ✗ The subscription is more expensive than most
The Cube Real-Time Tracker is a compact device with a SIM card and subscription ranging from $17 to $20 depending on your commitment. It’s a generic tracker that isn’t specifically designed for pets, but is part of Cube’s intended use cases.
It’s one of the best alternatives to long-term tracking devices that don’t use GPS, like Chini or Apple AirTags. The battery on the Cube can last anywhere between 10 and 60 days, depending on the features you enable.
The tracker is packed with GPS, cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It can use all four to pinpoint the position, but this will of course give you the least battery life. Depending on your needs, you can turn some on and others off to extend battery life.
The Cube is very cheap, but you’ll have to buy a third-party collar mounting solution or buy OEM clips from Cube, which cost $25.
If you’re worried about your pet getting stolen or running away instead of real-time tracking during activities or outings, the Cube is a great option.
Cube Real-Time Tracker
The Real-Time tracker is a general purpose tracker perfect for recovering a lost or stolen pet with exceptional battery life and wide spectrum radio technologies.