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If you’ve ever worried about your dog getting lost, there’s an easy way to instantly ensure it doesn’t happen thanks to collars with built-in tracking devices. These are excellent options for pinpointing your pet’s exact location, whether they’ve gotten out and are roaming the neighborhood, or ran off on their own in the woods during a walk.
There are two main types you’ll find when looking: a collar with built-in GPS capability, and an attachment device you can add to your dog’s existing collar.
GPS collars are heavier-duty, designed more for rugged outdoor treks in big open areas, and feature better satellite connectivity. They’re often ideal for training a new dog, or keeping track of a whole pack.
But if you already have a collar that you (and your dog) are happy with, an attachment GPS device might be the way to go. They’re small, lightweight, and can clip right onto a collar, so you can always find your pet in any setting. In this article, we’ve listed our top picks for each type.
Here’s everything to keep in mind when searching for the right tracker for your best friend.
GPS Dog Collar Buying Guide
From solid range to good battery life, these features are what you’ll want in the best GPS dog collar.
Range: This can be as low as a few hundred feet, and as high as you can go if it has satellite tracking. You can also often set specific “safe zone” perimeters, and get a notification when your pet wanders out of bounds.
These use WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and cellular networks to keep tabs on your furry friend. A device with GPS/satellite tracking capability is best for things like hikes, travel, and going off-grid, while Bluetooth might be better for finding them within a range of about 400 feet, like wondering where in the house your pup is hiding.
Range is always going to be better outside the city when using a cellular network, where there’s no interference from buildings and other structures (though tall trees can obstruct it too). Plus, GPS is much easier to work with if you’re traveling through different countries with your dog, instead of having to change cell networks and SIM cards every time you cross a border.
Battery Life: This seemed to vary pretty widely across the board, but it’s entirely possible to get a collar that’ll last for a week or more on one charge, sometimes even up to 30 days. Lithium ion is the primary battery type for long stretches, and the best option when a power source may not always be reliable or available.
Pairing: These primarily pair with the accompanying smartphone app made by the manufacturer, but some can also pair with separate GPS tracker devices if you have them. One of our favorite features was two-way audio, allowing you not only to speak directly to your dog (or the person who found them after getting lost), but also to hear whatever they’re hearing.
Monthly Fee: Some devices will charge a monthly fee, most often if they have an embedded service that uses a cellular network. The upside is instant updates, but that can come with monthly costs in some cases.
Extras: Besides tracking where your pet is, some bonus options also include things like monitoring their temperature, sleep, exercise and even how much they’re itching themselves, as well as making the collar ring remotely. A reflective collar can also help spot your pet if it gets out at night (and make sure they’re visible to drivers). You can even set some to send you reminders to give your pet their medication. LED lights can also make your dog stand out in the dark, even if it’s just a nighttime walk.
What Are the Best GPS Dog Collars and Trackers?
From sleek dog collars to GPS trackers you can add to existing collars, here are our top picks.
1. Dogtra Pathfinder
2. Garmin Alpha 100 Bundle
While the collar is for your dog, this set comes with an additional GPS device with a three-inch color screen meant for you. Around 100,000 maps of the United States are preloaded, so you’ll always have a clear picture of the landscape your dog is in wherever they may roam. You’ll also receive tone and vibration notifications, and stats on your dog’s speed and the distance they’ve traveled. Boundaries are easy to set, and this can track up to 20 dogs from nine miles away.
3. FitBark GPS Dog Tracker
This tracks your pup’s stats 24/7, like sleep quality and distance traveled, and even allows you to link it up with your own personal fitness tracker, like a FitBit or Apple Watch. FitBark works on dogs of all sizes, from 5 to 240 pounds. While at home, it connects to WiFi and Bluetooth, and supports GPS as well as real-time location tracking via Verizon’s LTE network nationwide (but works with whatever major cell network you already use). It’s lightweight at only 17 grams, waterproof, and can last between 10-20 days on a single charge.
4. Link AKC Smart Dog Collar with GPS
This durable leather collar fits most small- to medium-sized dogs, and pinpoints your pet’s location with GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and cellular service through AT&T. You can also connect it with your pup’s veterinary records, track things like their temperature of their environment, as well as get access to a 24/7 poison control center help line.
The remote-controlled LED light on the collar is handy for night walks, and is also waterproof in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes. It’s also simple to set up safe zones, and get alerts when your dog wanders into where they shouldn’t be.