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 designed specifically for pet tracking and others are general tracking devices. The right type of tracker depends on your use case, but for tracking your dog, we’ve only included trackers that use GPS technology.
Devices such as Apple AirTags are not included here because they do not use GPS technology for positioning. GPS trackers are more expensive and have a much shorter battery life than Bluetooth trackers, but you get instant and accurate information about your pet’s location.
Speaking of battery life, GPS trackers can vary greatly from device to device. Some of this depends on the size of the tracker, which affects the size of the battery, but extra features like Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity usually mean the device is more power hungry. Some trackers, such as those used with hunting dogs, offer only half a day of battery life. General purpose GPS trackers may need to be recharged every few days.
Then there are two general types of GPS trackers. The first contains a mobile modem and a SIM card. GPS is a one-way network, so you need some way to send those coordinates back to the dog’s owner.
Using mobile data is generally the best way to go as mobile network coverage is generally huge. However, these services almost always have a subscription fee, usually one that quickly exceeds the amount you spent on the tracker itself.
Another type of tracker does not have a cellular modem and does not require a subscription in most cases. Instead, the tracker uses a radio to communicate with the unit you carry with you. The downside to these radio trackers, however, is that you’re usually limited to only a few miles of coverage.
RELATED: What is “geofencing”?
Radio trackers are used with working dogs for hunting, search and rescue, or in any situation where you are close to dogs but can’t always keep your eyes on them. The tracker or tracking collar is only half the price, because you have to buy the receiver as well. However, receivers can usually track multiple dogs, so you don’t need to buy multiple dogs.
In addition to basic tracking, many dog trackers, regardless of species, have additional functions. Geofencing, for example, is a common extra 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.
The tracker may have technologies other than GPS to improve its accuracy, so you can pinpoint the animal’s direction when you get close to the GPS coordinates. Whether these extra features are worth paying for depends on why you want the tracker in the first place.
Now that you’ve figured out what you’re looking for in a GPS dog tracker, here are five of the best available 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 complete tracking device you can buy. It offers live tracking as long as the dog is within cellular coverage, location history and a virtual fence, so you’ll be alerted 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 worldwide. 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.
Besides having almost all the features anyone would need, the Tractive is waterproof and rugged. There are problems with your dog running through the river or rolling in the mud and his collar is so short.
Battery life is also excellent, lasting up to 6 days according to users. The required subscription starts 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 fantastic tracker for your dog.
The best GPS dog tracker overall
Towable Waterproof GPS Tracker for Dogs
Tractive’s device is everything you could want in a dog GPS tracker. From its worldwide coverage to its waterproof design, this is a tracker that’s perfect for most users.
Best Small GPS Dog Tracker: Jiobit
- ✓ Very small
- ✓ Long battery life
- ✓ Smart features like geofencing and location-based alerts
- ✓ Bluetooth for distance tracking
- ✗ Subscription required
- ✗ Additional attachment accessories may be required depending on your pet
- ✗ Expensive
The Jiobit tracker has a few things that make it stand out from the crowd. It’s significantly smaller than most of the competition, so if you have a small dog or cat, this is a light and comfortable option for them.
Even though it’s so small, it has much better battery life than other larger 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 has many smart features in the Android and iPhone app, including geofencing, movement history and more.
Jiobit makes excellent use of Bluetooth technology. If your pet is close enough to a registered carer, you can track it via Bluetooth instead of GPS. If your pet does get lost, it can also use the Bluetooth signal strength as a more accurate indicator 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 purchase additional attachment accessories depending on what you want to attach it to. The device requires a subscription, but at least it doesn’t need a SIM card for mobile service.
The data plan includes international data, so you can take your dog abroad to a supported country and you won’t have to do anything special to track it. Subscriptions start at $15 for a monthly plan, but get cheaper if you take out a longer contract. A 6-month contract is $13 per month, and a 2-year contract will cost you $9 per month.
- ✓ There is no subscription
- ✓ It combines different wireless technologies for real-time monitoring
- ✗ No mobile connection, must be within range of the dog
- ✗ Relatively limited range
- ✗ Battery life may be too short for some
- ✗ High starting price
The Petfon GPS tracker is a non-cellular device that uses proprietary long-range radio technology to track your dog anywhere between 0.65 miles to 3.5 miles, depending on the density of the area.
This tracker is not intended for use when you are away from home or unattended. Instead, this is a tracker that you attach to your dog’s collar before you leave the house and go for a walk. There’s a control unit that you keep with you that connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone.
Its battery life is between eight and sixteen hours. You’ll also get a portable charging case for travel, which can charge the tracker up to three times. So if you start with a fully primed tracker, that’s enough power to last until the next time you can charge it.
Finally, the unit is waterproof and rugged, and features an audible alarm and lights to help locate your pet when you’re close but out of sight.
The biggest drawback of the Petron tracker is the price, which starts at $220. But while it’s expensive, when you factor in the lack of a subscription, it could save you money in the long run.
PETFON GPS Tracker for pets
A great local tracker that combines the best features of a smartphone with traditional local radio-based "stupid" searchers.
- ✓ Independent device, no internet or phone required
- ✓ 4 mile range
- ✓ No subscription
- ✓ LED lights
- ✓ Water resistance up to 10 meters
- ✗ Requires Garmin tracker, price adds up
- ✗ It’s not a smart device
- ✗ For smaller dogs only
The Garmin T5 Mini is a version of the company’s popular standard T5 collar. The T5 Mini is made for smaller dogs, with a more compact size and a slightly lower price tag of $249. The T5 is larger and has better battery life and range, but costs $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 up to 9 miles, which makes sense since big dogs can travel farther in less time than small dogs. The necklaces also have lights visible at 100 meters, are robust and water resistant up to 10 meters.
These Garmin trackers are designed for outdoor sports or work involving dogs. They are local trackers and do not have a mobile connection. Instead, the collar is connected to a control unit worn by the dog’s handler. The receiver is purchased separately, so please note that the price is here only for the seeker.
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 costs a whopping $750.
But remember that these products are for the world of serious tracking of multiple dogs in harsh conditions, so the price will be higher than the average GPS tracker. If you use dogs for any serious purpose, investing in a Garmin system is well worth it.
Garmin T5 Mini GPS Collar
The T5 Mini is the gold standard for professional tracking of multiple dogs up to four miles away. No subscription and no smartphone. You will need to invest in a tracking unit and large dogs should get the standard T5.
- ✓ Very cheap in itself
- ✓ Between 10 and 60 days of battery life
- ✓ Geo-fencing alerts
- ✗ Collar clips are an additional purchase
- ✗ The subscription is more expensive than most
The Cube Real-Time Tracker is a compact unit with a SIM card and a subscription ranging from $17 to $20, depending on your commitment. This is a general tracker that isn’t specifically designed for pets, but is part of the use cases that Cube had in mind.
This is one of the best alternatives to long-term tracking devices that do not use GPS, such as Tile or Apple AirTags. The battery on the Cube can last from 10 to 60 days, depending on which functions you activate.
The tracker has GPS, cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It can use all four to pinpoint your position, but of course that will give you the lowest battery life. Depending on your needs, you can keep some on and others off to extend battery life.
The Cube is very inexpensive, but you’ll need to purchase a third-party collar mounting solution or purchase OEM clips from Cube, which cost $25.
If you’re mostly worried about your pet being stolen or running away, rather than tracking it in real time during an activity or walk, the Cube is a great choice.
Cube Real-Time Tracker
The real-time tracker is a general-purpose tracking device perfect for retrieving a lost or stolen pet, with exceptional battery life and a wide range of radio technologies.