Wearable tech first made an appearance in the canine world a few years ago. At the forefront were GPS collar for dogs that were used for tracking dogs in service or in the army. However, advancement in technology in recent times have brought GPS collars within reach of pet parents who would like to ensure that their pooches stay safe. If you have a ‘curious joe’ for a pet, then GPS for dogs can be a lifesaver for you. It informs you about the latest whereabouts of your wandering pet and saves you from hours of agony and an emotional reunion later.
But hapless pet owners who live with ‘runaway dogs’ are not the only people who can benefit from GPS dog collars. These dainty little gadgets, if we can call them that, can be very beneficial if you have a hunting dog or a herder who spends more time in the woods than at home.
The convenience and the sense of security that these collars bring make them a very worthy consideration for pet owners, irrespective of whether their dogs have a history of playing Houdini. The only problem though, is that buying one of these collars is not as easy as selecting the right size and choosing a color that goes best with your pet.
Top 5 GPS for Dogs and Cats
|1||Garmin Astro 320 T5 Dog GPS Bundle||Around $500||Click Here for Review|
|2||Garmin PT10 Dog Device Red Collar (Pro 70/Pro 550)||Around $150||Click Here for Review|
|3||Whistle GPS Pet Tracker||Around $80||Click Here for Review|
|4||Tractive GPS Pet Tracker, Camouflage, One Size||Around $100||Click Here for Review|
|5||Tagg Pet GPS Plus - Dog and Cat Tracker Collar Attachment||Around $100||Click Here for Review|
If you have only recently heard about GPS for dogs and are out researching about possible choices for your canine, then you’d be shocked to see the mind-boggling number of choices you have when you venture into the market.
To help you navigate through the maze and make the right choice, here’s a small guide that helps you understand how these collars work and some of the features to consider while making a purchase.
What are the different types of GPS collars for dogs?
Despite being labelled as dog tracking collars, not all of them use GPS or global positioning system to track your pet. In fact, there are two different types of technology that is used in collars to track pets.
GPS dog collars:
As the name suggests, these contain a GPS receiver attached to the collar and use real time information from any local positioning satellite to relay the pet’s exact location. This information can then be relayed to a handheld receiver device with an LCD display screen that pinpoints the current location or to your cell phone via a text message.
The advantage of a GPS for Dogs collar is the easy availability and the vast reach of GPS technology. It is estimated that irrespective of where you are on earth, at least four GPS satellites will always be visible. So, unless your pooch has hidden under a rock, the signal will be picked up by one of the satellites.
The caveat is that these collars can be heavy and are not the ideal choice for smaller breeds. Also, some of these collars use mobile networks to communicate with the handheld receiver. So, if you or the dog is in a dead zone with no signal, it won’t transmit the location. By the time the device receives a signal, your dog may be a few hundred meters or even a couple of kilometers away.
GPS for dogs collars typically involve a monthly usage plan with selected service providers that the manufacturer has a tie-up with.
RF dog collars:
RF or Radio Frequency collars are more suited for use in woods or forest patches with dense shrubbery or tree cover where GPS satellites may not work as effectively or where mobile network is scarce. These are low cost options too because there is no monthly fee involved. There are two different types of RF dog collars. The first one is called Long Range RF and is typically used for tracking hunting dogs and they have a range of at least 8-10 kilometers. However, due to the extended range, they require more power and have a larger sized battery, making the collar heavy and more suited for large sized dogs.
Shorter range RF collars on the other hand are ideal for smaller sized dogs and cats and are powered by a small battery. Their range however is limited to a few hundred meters at best.
RF collars will not show you the exact location of your pet. You will only get directional information.
Things to consider while buying GPS for dogs
Your buying decision however should also take into consideration several other factors like weatherproofing, the weight, the battery life, the charges and the range.
What features do you need from the tracker?
Some trackers offer basic GPS coordinates while others will show the exact location on a map that you can follow. Advanced collars can also show the distance that the dog has travelled and at what speed. Many a time, you may be tempted to go for the one with the most bells and whistles, which can be an overkill for your pet. The fancier the features, the higher the price. So, if you have a terrier who rarely wanders beyond a few hundred yards, go for a barebones collar. On the other hand if you have an escape artist who darts away the moment the gate is left open, choose a higher end GPS collar with more features.
How much money are you willing to invest in the GPS for dogs collar?
As we said before, the fancier the tech you choose, the higher the price goes. RF collars are typically priced from $50 to $200 whereas GPS collars can start from $100 and go up to $1000 and more.
Will the collar be a right fit for your dog or cat?
You might want the latest GPS for dogs but if it’s too heavy, then it will start to hurt your pet and they may barely be able to move, let alone skedaddle. Always research if the collar is a right fit for your dog. GPS for dogs collar are normally recommended for dogs that weigh above 40 lbs. However, a lot of compact sized trackers are now gaining popularity in the market.
How do you wish to receive information about the pet?
Some GPS collars rely on mobile networks to send you the information about the pet’s location. However, there is a monthly fee involved. If you do not want to pay a monthly subscription fee, then look for a collar that sends the information directly to the handheld receiver. Also, you may want to make a choice based on the geographical terrain in your vicinity. If there are a lot of trees, GPS may not be an effective choice. RF will be a better and more reliable bet. For urban locales with cellular coverage, GPS provides a precision based tracking service that can’t be beaten.
What kind of battery does the device use?
You have two choices, replaceable or rechargeable. Replaceable will be more expensive in the long run but last for a longer duration. Rechargeable will be cheaper but you will have to ensure that it’s fully charged every day.
Is it waterproof?
If you have a hunting dog that goes into the woods to retrieve your catch, like say waterfowl, you’ll want to ensure that both the collar belt and the GPS device are waterproof. Even otherwise, it is recommended that you choose a durable GPS collar because dogs have an uncanny knack to subject their collars to the least collar-friendly terrain.
Is it easy to use?
The last thing that you want to do is be left with a handheld receiver that you are unable to use and you are left fiddling with the settings while your pet is lost somewhere. Always look for a collar and receiver set that are easy to use, sync and customize. If you are unsure about any feature in a collar that you like, speak to the manufacturer. Their response will also allow you to understand the customer service level and how responsive they will be towards urgent queries about locating your pet.
How many pets are you looking to track with one handheld device?
Some handheld devices and collar kits are designed only to track one pet whereas others can track 4 or 5 or even up to 20 dogs at a time. However, every pet that you wish to track will need to have their own tracking collar. Also, ensure that you are aware of the tracking information for each pet.
The Display monitor
Most GPS handheld devices have an LED or LCD display monitor. Ensure that the monitor has clear visibility in broad daylight and is backlit for night time use. Does the monitor have a zoom function that allows you to zoom out and track the position of all the dogs that you are tracking?
The Bells and Whistles
Newer additions are being made each day to basic GPS dog collars to make them more efficient and improve their user friendliness. Some of these features can be worth the extra dollar. For example, a perimeter alarm system when the dogs cross a GPS dog fence and real time motion tracking on the screen, alarms when the dogs move at selected times of the day.
Did you find that overwhelming? We tried to keep it as basic as we could, but it is better to keep your claws sharp than make an expensive mistake with your purchase. When it comes to GPS for dogs, there is more than money at stake and you are better off not trying to skim any information.
The Best GPS for dogs
Everything said and done, we have created a list of the best GPS dog collars in the market for you on the basis of their features, their popularity with pet owners and their price. This may not be the most definitive list of GPS dog collars that you will ever see. But having been in the pet care industry for years now, we are of the opinion that these give you more bang for your buck than any other models.
#1 – Garmin Astro 320 T5 Dog GPS Bundle
The Garmin Astro 320 T5 dog bundle is one of the most feature rich GPS collar kits that you can buy for your pet. It is a complete set that includes the T5 GPS collar and the Astro 320 receiver device and boasts of a slew of impressive features like the ability to track up to 10 dogs at a time for up to 9 miles, a 2.6 inch color screen display, the option to load Birdseye satellite Imagery and beacon lights on the collar for low light emergency situations.
The Best features of Garmin Astro 320
The Astro 320 is a pure GPS based tracking collar that does not require a mobile network to transmit the data to the receiver. The T5 collar features a top-mounted GPS/GLONASS steel-braided antenna for uninterrupted tracking and transmission even in heavily-wooded areas. It weighs 9.3 ounces, is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 40 hours and fits dog neck sizes between 13″ and 22″. When the battery drains out to 25%, a rescue mode, which is in essence a power saving mode kicks in to conserve battery life.
The collar is waterproof to 10 meters and includes a USB port which can be used to load GPS data directly to your laptop.
The Astro 320 handheld device on the other hand has a 2.6″ color backlit display, is powered by two AA lithium batteries (you can buy rechargeable ones) and weighs 9.2 ounces. You can load additional maps to a MicroSD card and also store up to 50 routes and 10,000 track points. This also doubles up as a GPS device so that you won’t get lost while trying to locate your pet.
Tracking your pet
The Astro 320 is a beast with phenomenal tracking capabilities and the features to back it up. It works exceptionally well even in areas with a heavy tree cover as both the antenna on the collar and the receiver are extremely sensitive. You can load maps, store waypoints and track your dog in real time. The T5 collar sends out a signal to the receiver once every 5 seconds. So, there is no lag in the information. You can even club it with a perimeter fence to send out a warning when the dog crosses it.
Irrespective of whether your dogs go hunting or on a solo trip to the woods, the Garmin Astro 320 lets you monitor their usage and get to them in no time. If you are looking for a reliable GPS collar for dogs, you just found it.
#2 – Garmin PT10 Dog Device Red Collar (Pro 70/Pro 550)
The Garmin PT10 dog device is an add-on GPS dog collar for use with the Garmin Pro 70 and PRO 550 dog collar kits that are used for behavioral correction and yard training. The PT10 features a 3/4” adjustable collar strap that is available in different colors and a 1 mile range with 27MHz radio frequency to connect to the receivers.
The Best features of the Garmin PT10
Irrespective of whether you are looking to add more dog devices to your Pro 70 or looking to replace one that has malfunctioned (grim chances of this happening with Garmin collars), the PT 10 fits right in. This is a comfortable collar and includes the stainless steel insulated contact points that ensure that you can train the dogs with the correctional stimulation even in wet conditions.
The PT 10 also incorporates Garmin’s extremely popular BARKLIMITER technology which allows you to keep the decibels in the kennel to a minimum when you return home.
The receiver device features a status LED that constantly blinks to indicate that the collar is synced with the Pro 70 and working fine. Further, it has a beacon light that can be used if you are training the dogs in the night or take them camping.
Completely waterproof, your dogs can be submerged in water and enjoy their playtime without affecting the functionality of the collar. It is powered by rechargeable batteries and once charged fully, it can work for up to 40 hours.
Tracking your pets
The PT10 has a one mile range which is more than sufficient while yard training dogs. You can also let them explore the woods without fear of them losing the way. The collar works flawlessly with both of Garmin’s tested behavioral correction systems.
It is impossible to go wrong with Garmin products. The Garmin PT10 should be a great addition or replacement to your dog pack with the PRO 70 or 550.
#3 – Whistle GPS Pet Tracker
The Whistle GPS Pet Tracker is the #1 rated GPS tracking system for pets in the industry and also the bestseller in the category on Amazon. Unlike the GPS pet collars that we have reviewed so far, this is a compact tracker that resembles a stylish watch and attaches to any existing pet collar. Your mobile phone doubles up as the receiver and all that you need to do is download the Whistle app and sync the tracker with it. It relies on cellular networks and GPS and comes with an additional cost for GPS services which roughly amounts to $9.95 per month or $95.40 when billed annually.
The Best Features of the Whistle GPS for Dogs tracker
The Whistle GPS for dogs tracker is a very light weight tracker that can be used with pets who weigh 15 lbs. and above. The tracker itself, weighs just 1.3 ounces and has a plastic clip and a rubber strap which allows it to fit the collar to perfection. The design is minimalistic but very effective. A brushed metal surface with the whistle logo, two buttons on the side to power on/off the tracker and a snooze button and a pinhole sized LED light complete the design.
The tracker can be removed and placed on a docking base which is also the charger. The base features a short-range proprietary radio that creates a 100-200 feet safety zone around itself and keeps monitoring this area for the presence of the tracker. In other words, your pet. You can further extend this by adding new base stations to the system.
The Whistle GPS for dogs tracker tracks a lot of data about your pet’s activity which can be accessed via your dog’s profile in the Whistle GPS Activity tracker app.
The tracker is water resistant but not entirely waterproof.
Tracking your pets
Tracking your dog is ridiculously easy with the app. Switch on the app and you get the option to add a new whistle. Just enter the ID that you can find on the back of the tracker. You can create multiple profiles for each dog that you want to track. You can set up email, SMS and push notifications to alert you when your dog leaves the present zone. Just open the map and click refresh to see the exact current location.
If you live in an urban area with uninterrupted 3G cellular coverage, then the Whistle GPS pet tracker is one of the best choices you have.
#4 – Tractive GPS Pet Tracker, Camouflage, One Size
Tractive is the latest addition to the list of GPS for dogs collars that use a combination of GPS and cellular networks to give you real time information on the latest location of your pet. The advantage is that Tractive is the smallest GPS tracking device that also features an integrated sim card making it ideal to be used with children, cars, suitcases or just about anything that needs to be tracked.
The best features of the Tractive GPS pet tracker
Apart from the compact size and the lightweight (35g), the Tractive GPS for dogs tracker is a 100% waterproof model. It features an integrated light that can be used to find the pet if they go out of the yard at night.
To start tracking you can subscribe to one of their plans which roughly costs $5 every month, which is pretty cost effective as compared to some of the other GPS units that
we have reviewed. A Tractive mobile app allows you to set a safe zone virtual perimeter around the house. If you pet breaches the perimeter, you will receive SMS and email alerts.
The app also allows you to follow the exact path taken by your pet for the past 24 hours. This feature allows you to monitor your pet’s activity levels. One of the best features is that the app also indicates the battery level of the tracking device.
Tracking your pet
The Tractive GPS for dogs tracker combined with the mobile app makes it extremely easy to track your pet. Along with a virtual safe zone and multiple alerts, it is one of the best ways to monitor the activities of your pet and find them in real time.
Like the Whistle GPS for dogs tracker, the Tractive GPS device is a perfect choice if you are looking for a compact sized and discreet tracking device.
#5 – Tagg Pet GPS Plus – Dog and Cat Tracker Collar Attachment
Tagg is the original Pet GPS tracker from Whistle that is the predecessor for the Whistle GPS tracker that we have reviewed on our #3 position. In fact, it has the exact same dimensions and components as the Whistle. This is the upgraded version of the original Tagg and is called Tagg Pet Plus. Among the upgrades are an activity monitor, a temperature sensor and an accelerometer.
The best features of the Tagg Pet GPS Plus
The Tagg Pet GPS Plus is a watch styled or bark collar styled GPS tracking device that is compact and extremely light weight at 37g. It has a muted color tone with a pinhole sized light and a rubber strap that is used to attach it to your pet’s collar.
Completely waterproof and with a 10 day battery life, it is what the company calls ‘Pet Proof’. So, once you charge it fully and attach it to your pet’s collar, you can
forget all about it until you receive a low battery alert.
All the tracking settings are to be completed on Whistle’s free mobile app that can be downloaded for both Android and iPhone. The app is extremely feature rich and allows you to set a safe zone around the house. If you pet goes wandering out of the safe zone, you receive instant notifications via text and email.
The charging base station works as a radio controller and syncs with the collar tracking device to keep tabs on your pet.
Tracking your pet
The Tagg Pet Plus is a very effective tracking device that lets you track your pet’s latest location, create multiple pet profiles, set custom alerts, view the air temperature to check if your pet is overheating or in trouble and also set activity levels to prevent your pet from becoming obese. The plans for GPS for dogs tracking start from $6.95 per month with Tagg.
The Tagg Pet Plus GPS tracker doesn’t have the best customer rating. The company has been acquired by Whistle and clearly, the Whistle GPS tracker seems to be the upgraded version that has ironed out all the crevices. You’d be hard pressed to buy the Tagg Plus with the Whistle available at just a few dollars more.