The 10 Best GPS Dog Collars
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in November of 2017. If you're a dog owner, there's nothing more worrying than when you realize your pet isn't in any of its usual spots. Many dogs know how to get home on their own, but that doesn't protect them from traffic and other dangers. Our selection of handy devices includes GPS-equipped collars, as well as small trackers that can easily be attached to your pup's existing collar. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 11, 2020:
During this round of updates, while the SupremeLife Pet Mini was removed due to availability issues, the SportDog Brand was eliminated due to poor reviews, and the Tristar Anti-Lost was replaced by the Tristar Anti-Lost 2nd Generation. The Link AKC Smart Monitor was also replaced, by the Link AKC Plus — which is essentially the same model as its predecessor, only with better battery life and upgraded firmware that improves its tracking precision.
To complement our existing selections of high-end trackers – which are largely intended for hunting dogs – we endeavored to use our seven new inclusions to add a range of models that we felt would better appeal to the average dog owner. A few of our standout additions are the GBD Anti-Lost Tag — a Bluetooth-based option that we’ve included for the benefit of users on a budget, the Black and Decker SC01 — a selection that operates on 2G Wi-Fi networks and features built-in two-way audio functionality, and the Whistle Go Explore — the company’s top-end model that boasts a 20-day battery life and uses algorithms to monitor many dog behaviors, such as licking, scratching and sleeping.
A few things to think about for this category:
Satellite vs. Cellular: While GPS often gets thrown around as a blanket term used to refer to any location system, it’s actually the proper name for a network of some 30 satellites that are owned by the United States. Based on their distance from at least four of these satellites, GPS-connected devices can calculate their position through triangulation. GPS isn’t the only satellite location system orbiting Earth; Russia’s Gloabal Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is another highly capable network, and purportedly can even be more accurate than GPS at locations closer to the planet’s poles. Advanced options like the Garmin Alpha 100 TT combine GPS and GLONASS technology to improve their accuracy.
The main advantage of satellite systems – other than the cost of using them, which we’ll get right into, shortly – is that you can use them all around the world. However, these devices require line of sight with their satellites, and therefore can struggle in overcast conditions and hilly terrain.
Cellular location systems, including Wi-Fi and SIM-based methods, are what drive much of the day-to-day navigational convenience that we enjoy through our smartphones. These systems can offer impressive accuracy in dense urban areas that are adequately furnished with cell towers, but they might not do as well in less-developed rural areas and – as we’re about to get into – they come at a cost.
For the most part, we recommend satellite-based models like the Garmin Alpha 100 TT or Garmin T5 to users living in rural areas or planning to spend some serious time backcountry with their pup. For those living in cities, who are primarily interested in investing in a bit of peace of mind to counteract their curious pet’s disappearing acts, we suggest a cellular-based selection like the Whistle Go Explore or Link AKC Plus.
Service Fees: When pricing options out in this category, an important factor to consider is whether or not there’s a monthly service fee associated with a given model. Since GPS is offered by the U.S. government as a free service, satellite-based models tend not to come with any fees, but devices that use cellular location require connection to a local network, which usually has a cost associated with it.
In an effort to lessen this blow, and win your business in the process, many models have included a limited subscription in the price of their device. The Samsung SmartThings Tracker, for example, comes with a one-year subscription, and the Black and Decker SC01 comes with 90 days of service. The Garmin Astro 430/T comes with a one-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery service.
Bells and Whistles: All of the models we listed should be able to offer some level of assistance when it comes to tracking down a furry friend who's gone missing, but some have gone further than others to help you keep track of your pet.
The Petfon Activity Monitor has a built-in voice recorder, so you can program it to tell your dogs to go home if ever they leave a designated area (likely your backyard), and the Black and Decker SC01 goes a step further, featuring two-way audio functionality, so you can tell your pup to smarten up, even from the opposite side of the dog park. The Whistle Go Explore can provide you with a remarkable amount of information on your dog’s behavior, helping you spot health problems early on, and for something a little less topical – but nonetheless useful – the GBD Anti-Lost Tag can be used as a remote trigger for the camera on your smartphone.