Your sense of smell is not as sharp as your dog's, so to help you follow their path you can equip your dog with a GPS tracker. Whether you let your dog roam free, take them camping, or just want an extra level of protection against your pet running away, a GPS tracker is a great way to know where your canine is currently exploring.
We tested seven of the most popular GPS trackers in our New York City Lab to gather useful data and insights that can inform your selection. While some are exclusively location-focused, others allow you to receive updates on every move, nap, and pat your dog experiences. We also took into consideration the size of the tracker, its battery life, the tracking range, and if it requires a subscription to properly function.
With a dog GPS tracker, you can tag along on your pup's adventures from your mobile device, and these trackers are designed to comfortably and securely fit on your dog around their neck with a collar or as an attachment to their favorite collar.
Whether it's for napping in another room or splashing around in a local pond, here are the best dog GPS trackers.
Fi Smart Dog Series 2
Chew-proof and waterproof
Built-in LED light
Provides behavioral insights
1 year warranty
Location is not exact but does get close
Battery life varies depending on use
If you are looking for a comprehensive GPS dog tracker, then the Fi Smart Dog Series 2 is the one for you. With the activation of the subscription—a purchase includes a 30-day trial—you'll be able to access the FI App to see where your dog is located, their activity levels (step count and sleep duration), and if they are interacting with other dogs and humans in your community.
"It has a nice sturdy collar and is built to last," our tester said.
The waterproof tracker can withstand splashes and rain, and a built-in LED light can be activated from the Fi App. Our tester found the instructions for setup and activation to be straightforward but found the location accuracy to be less impressive. "App gives the general location of where the product is, with a margin of error, but is able to give consistent live tracking information."
When the battery is fully charged, it has a life of up to 3 months. This varies with use, but the device will connect to Wifi or Bluetooth beacons, such as your phone or the tracker's charging base, to maximize battery life.
The tracker comes with a collar in the size of your choice and in one of four bright color options—yellow, gray, blue, or pink ombre.
Fi has also released a new version of the smart collar, called the Series 3. The GPS unit is half the size of the unit on the Series 2, plus it has better signal coverage. The collar itself is also stronger, making it even more chew-resistant than the previous model. But the main difference may be its fully subscription model. Rather than buying a collar with an optional subscription, like with the Series 2, the new Fi smart dog collar requires a $19 per month subscription (if you pre-pay for two years, that price lowers to $14 a month).
As long as you're okay with the change in payment structure, we believe that the Fi Series 3 will provide an improved experience over the Series 2. However, we have yet to test the Fi Series 3 for ourselves. This roundup will be updated once we have had an opportunity to try it out for ourselves.
Price at time of publish: $149
Fi Series 3 Smart Dog Collar
Best Collar Attachment
Tractive Waterproof GPS Dog Tracker
Completely waterproof and can even withstand swimming
Attaches to most collars with widths up to 1.1 inches
Ability to ping device and turn on multi-colored light from app
Tester experienced a loss of connectivity for short durations of time
For dogs who don't hesitate to dive in, this completely waterproof GPS tracker is designed to seamlessly integrate into their daily activities. This collar attachment tracker is designed to slide onto your dog's favorite collar, so there is less new stuff for them to get used to. "Tiny and lightweight," observed our tester. "It's easy to put on and take off and it looks aesthetically pleasing."
With the subscription, you'll be able to observe your dog's activity in real-time, access a map overview of their location history, setup virtual fences, and receive alerts if your dog leaves a designated area—very helpful if they tend to be an unwelcome visitor in your garden or your neighbor's pool. While the range for the device is unlimited, our tester did experience a few momentary losses of connectivity, but real-time updates were back within minutes.
Best for Cities
Lightweight, compact design
Easily pairs with Apple devices
No charging required and replaceable battery life is approximately 1 year
Only compatible with Apple devices
Not recommended for remote locations
If you want a streamlined way to monitor your dog's location from your go-to Apple device, then the AirTag is the dog tracker for you. "Everything is controlled from an iPhone so there was little to no effort in setting up the AirTag," noted our tester. "It's super small, lightweight, and doesn't need to be charged."
The battery lifespan of this water-resistant tracker lasts about a year, and your connected device will notify you before a replacement is needed, so it requires less daily maintenance than other trackers on our list. Through Apple's "Find My" app, you can locate your dog's AirTag, play a sound to help you locate your dog, and receive a notification when you are home but your dog is not (or vice versa). You can also turn on Lost Mode and if someone with an Apple device finds your pup, the AirTag will send a notification to them with your preferred contact information.
Our tester recommends this tracker for people and pups that reside in populated areas where they are more likely to encounter other Apple device users. "As someone who hikes a lot, I'd want to be able to track him if he ran away from me and chances are another Apple device users won't be nearby."
A collar is not included, but there is a plethora of sleeves and collars available (some that increase the level of water resistance) that are designed to hold the Apple AirTag securely around your dog's neck. We like this collar from Albion and this slip-on holder from Etsy.
Price at time of publish: $29
Best for Hiking
PETFON Pet GPS Tracker
No subscription required
Attaches to collar with a durable rubber band so can fit on most
Ability to ping device and turn on multi-colored light from app
Shorter battery life (8-16 hours) than other trackers on our list
Slip this streamlined GPS tracker onto your furry best friend's collar and head out together to explore the great outdoors, hit up your local dog park, or go for an off-leash walk. "The rubber band to attach the tracker to the dog collar is very strong," observed our tester who found the compact design of the device appealing and it did not seem to bother their dog. While the device is priced higher ($220) than others on our list, it does not require a subscription plan.
From the app on your mobile device, the tracker allows you to view your dog's location in real-time, define a safe area, and get notified instantly if they wander outside of that predetermined space. You can also activate a built-in light in a variety of colors and ping the device to help you locate your dog. It's waterproof so if you get caught in a sudden downpour, you don't have to worry about the integrity of the tracker. However, the battery life is only 8-16 hours, so it's not recommended if you plan to be far away from a power source for a long duration of time.
Price at time of publish: $220
Cube Real Time GPS Dog & Cat Tracker
Real-time notifications and tracking
Ability to program geofences
App-controlled ping is loud
Battery life of 10-60 days
Bulky design not recommended for smaller breeds
If you've got a ruff rover on your hands that loves to roam free, then this waterproof tracker is the one for you. It's built to keep up with your pup and easily attaches to a collar. "It is sleek and attractive," noted our tester, but they wouldn't recommend it for smaller breeds due to its size and weight.
A subscription is required for use and includes the ability to view your dog's location from your mobile device, program geofences, and get real-time notifications if your dog crosses a boundary. "I like the location history feature on the app. You can see the route the dog took, kind of like you would see in a runner's app." To help you locate your dog, you can use the app to ping the device. The sound is 100 decibels and it startled our tester's dog on the initial use. We recommend introducing this feature to your dog in a secure space so they can gradually associate the sound as a signal that you are looking for them.
Price at time of publish: $30
Our overall favorite is the Fi Smart Dog Series 2. A subscription is required, but in addition to tracking a dog's whereabouts, it provides data about their health that may be useful. It comes with a collar, but can be swapped for another collar to suit your pup's preferences. If you are not interested in having a subscription, then you should consider the Apple AirTag. This small device can be added to a holder that slips on a collar or a collar designed specifically to hold an AirTag. It doesn't provide additional health insights but it will notify you quickly if your dog moves out of a predetermined range, and it pairs easily with Apple devices.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Dog GPS Tracker
Dog GPS trackers and smart collars use a combination of technologies to pinpoint the location of your dog over time. For example, Apple AirTags use Apple's "Find My" network, which tracks networked Bluetooth signals to triangulate the location of the AirTag on your dog's collar based on other Apple devices in the vicinity.
The Global Positioning System, more commonly known as GPS, is a navigation system that uses a network of satellites to pinpoint any GPS receiver—so long as they're visible to enough satellites in the network. While the GPS network established by the United States uses 28 different satellites, there are other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) that can also be used for real-time geolocation.
Some devices are able to increase their accuracy by receiving signals from multiple GNSS. For example, our favorite overall GPS smart collar for dogs—the Fi Series 2 dog collar—uses European, Russian, and Chinese satellite networks in addition to GPS.
GPS connectivity depends on line of sight with at least 4 satellites in the network. This means you're most likely to lose up-to-date location information in dense urban areas and mountainous terrain.
Most GPS trackers designed for pets require a subscription to activate the GPS tracking capabilities and increase the range of coverage, which is typically unlimited. Subscriptions also provide additional information about your dog that you might find useful, such as sleeping habits and the number of steps they took.
For example, The new Fi Series 3 has a $19 per month subscription, with discounts for committing to a 6-month, year, or two year subscription period. Several other GPS tracking collars we recommend have cheaper subscriptions, such as the Tractive, which starts at $13 per month. However, you have to purchase the GPS tracking collar attachment separately, whereas a FI subscription comes with the tracker, collar band, and a charging station.
If your dog roams freely, the tracker you select should withstand the elements and their playful tendencies. Depending on your dog, a tracker's ability to hold up against water, pawing and gnawing, and dirt should be a deciding factor.
The level of a device's waterproofing protection is generally determined by an Ingress Protection Rating, more often known as an IP code. This international standard reflects how much protection is offered against solid particles like dust and against water. Our favorite overall dog GPS tracker, the Fi Series 2, is coded IP68. The first digit after IP is in reference to dust, and a device is considered "dustproof" if it's labeled with a "6"—the highest rating. The second digit describes waterproofing, and a rating of 8 indicates that the dog collar is capable of complete submersion for more than 30 minutes (at a depth of 1 meter).
The battery life for GPS trackers varies widely. Some are meant to be used on an event basis, with a battery life designed to last few hours during a hike or day out. However, there are also smart collars and trackers with a battery life that can extend into weeks or months. Accounting for battery life before purchase involves, in part, some reflection about your routines. If you anticipate using a collar similarly to a smartwatch, then it may be reasonable to develop a habit of putting it back on the charging dock at at the end of each day. However, if you'd like your dog to wear a GPS tracker or smart collar at all times, then a longer-lasting battery should be a major priority. All of the GPS trackers on our list, except for the Apple AirTag, come with a charger.
How We Tested
We purchased and tested 7 GPS dog trackers in our New York Lab and in the real world. Testers worked in pairs or with their dog to run through tests while noting features and functionality. Our methodology guided our testers through multiple scores while also gathering subjective impressions along the way.
To start, our testers timed how long it took to set up the GPS tracker and the corresponding app on their mobile device, and they gave their first impressions on the design and size. If they were testing with their dog, they noted their dog's response to wearing the device. Each pair of testers then tested the accuracy and performance of the tracker, checking in at two designated checkpoints and noting real-time information and results. They evaluated features, such as lights and sounds, and offered insight into the type of environment and situations in which they felt the tracker would work well, and where it would fall short.
Testers then ranked the GPS tracker on a scale of 1 to 5 within the following categories: Ease of Setup, Accuracy, Functionality, Design, and Value, and the aggregation of ratings and feedback were used to inform our selections.
How do dog GPS trackers work?
Dog GPS trackers connect to nearby GPS satellites, which send the tracker’s location coordinates to the corresponding mobile device. Some trackers can connect to Wifi networks, cellular service (4G and LTE), and Bluetooth to track your dog.
Are GPS trackers safe for dogs to wear?
If your dog is comfortable wearing a collar, and the GPS tracker isn't too heavy, then a GPS tracker is safe for use. Always check with your veterinary if you are unsure whether your dog should wear a collar.
Do dog collar GPS trackers work indoors and outdoors?
Yes, but the connectivity source and strength will vary based on the tracker you select. AirTags and other devices use proximity to networked Bluetooth signals or WiFi to triangulate your device in relation to other devices. This works great indoors, in urban areas, or other places dense with technology. GPS, on the other hand, relies on line of sight with a minimum of four satellites in a navigational network. This works perfectly in open areas, but may struggle indoors, or when buildings are in the way.
Why Trust the Spruce Pets?
This roundup was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a pomeranian named Gidget. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Anna embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.