If you’re new to the GPS collar scene, don’t worry—so is everyone else. GPS collars are a fairly recent invention. Because of this, almost every GPS tracker has state-of-the-art technology and is continually updating, but some are still better than others.
When you’re looking to buy a GPS collar, there’s more you should look for than just how well it works. Does the collar offer live GPS tracking? Is the collar heavy? Will it work on your home Wi-Fi?
We’ve broken down our top six GPS tracking collars to highlight collars that have the best of everything.
With high ratings on Amazon, the Whistle 3 is a class favorite and the most reliable collar to date, according to customer reviews. In fact, animal owners everywhere are praising the Whistle 3 Pet Tracker for being the best in the game because of how well it tracks and alerts owners of change in activity or location.
Between its user-friendly Whistle app, health monitoring technologies, and quick-charging battery, the Whistle 3 is a smart collar done right—all for under $100.
GPS Tracking Track your hound or feline at all times on Whistle’s GPS tracking map.
Location Alert Create safe zones so if your pet wanders outside of the yard or a preset zone, you’ll be notified on your phone, so you can catch your pet before they run off.
Activity Monitoring Animals are good at masking illness, but signs normally show up in eating, drinking, and activity levels. Luckily, you can detect health problems before they become serious by comparing activity trends like sleep, rest, and exercise.
Service Plan Required Whistle requires a service plan, though that is pretty standard for high-end smart collars.
Recently created, the Pod 3 combines GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 2G/3G to beat out its competitors in coverage. And the company often offers deals on its subscription (at the time of writing, a free lifetime subscription is available).
Pet owners have dinged the Pod in the past on design, but with its desktop accessibility (most collars are only accessible via smartphone), rechargeable batteries, and live-tracking feature, function beats out fashion.
Eight-Hour Log The Pod 3 app stores eight hours’ worth of mapping, so you can see where your pet wanders throughout the day. This isn’t an actual video, but it does display your pet’s whereabouts on a virtual map.
Location Alerts Set perimeters where your pets can hang out, and get alerts if they escape. If you live next to a busy road, this can help keep your dogs and cats extra safe.
Rechargeable Batteries Short battery life is one of the biggest gripes pet owners have in the smart collar world, but the Pod 3 comes with two sets of rechargeable batteries, so you don’t have to risk a runaway incident in between charges.
Bulky Design The tracker looks awkward and calls attention to the fact that your pet has a GPS clipped onto their neck. But since it’s a clip-on device, it’s great for cats,who need easy-release collars and may not do well with a full-collar GPS tracker.
Tractive—like most GPS collar companies—is a relatively young company. Founded in 2012, Tractive has proven itself a forward thinker in GPS tracking, health monitoring, and dog training technology.
In addition to its classic tracking collars, Tractive also has a hunting dog version that’s better suited for pets that run through the bush, water, and rugged terrain.
24-Hour Reporting Tractive’s GPS tracker collar is the only one we’ve seen that records a 24-hour log of your pet’s whereabouts, which is helpful in studying trends and patterns.
Real-Time Live Tracking You can trace your mutt’s or kitty’s steps and get informed when one of them leaves a safe zone. And Tractive is known for giving precise locations, so you can be sure you’re seeing the real deal.
Monthly Subscription The lowest monthly subscription is $5 per month (for a 2-year contract, paid up front), which is cheaper than some companies, but it’s still $60 per year on top of the cost of the actual collar.
No Activity Tracking Unlike a lot of other collars, Tractive doesn’t monitor how much exercise, sleep, and rest your little pal is getting.
Nuzzle Most pet owners new to the smart collar world gravitate toward Nuzzle because of its lack of monthly fees. Some reviews speak to Nuzzle’s extremely short battery life, minimal alert options, and overall bugginess. But unlike other GPS collars, you can set up multiple coverage zones, and it also notifies you if your pet is sleeping, playing, or resting.
PetPace PetPace costs significantly more than other smart collars, and you can only access its info from the computer, but it’s undoubtedly the best for health monitoring purposes—especially if you have an oldie but goodie you want to keep tabs on.
PetPace tracks everything from heart rate to body positioning (which is nice when trying to identify an injury), plus it’s easy to read, has a long battery life, and looks sleek for how high-tech it is.
Link AKC Smart Collar The Link AKC is pretty hip, offering sophisticated full-leather collars and a sport option. These collars look so good, no one will guess it’s a tracker. The problem? Your dog will.
At three times the weight of other competing collars, Link’s fashionable design comes at a cost. Link takes intuitive to a whole new level with functional technology like storing abilities for tracking maps and a remote-control light to help you find your lost friend.
What’s the difference between GPS tracking and a microchip? The difference between a microchip and a GPS collar is the way the two are located. With a GPS collar, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, and 3G technologies can ping your animal’s location, allowing you to track them in real time. It’s because of this that GPS collars for dogs and cats have become so popular.
With microchips, you can’t track your pet in real time; they can only be identified once they end up at a vet or shelter. Also, chips are inserted into an animal’s shoulder—they can’t be slipped off like a collar or clip-on device.
If my pet is already microchipped, do I need to get a GPS collar too? Not necessarily, but smart GPS collars can do a lot more than a microchip. In addition to letting you track your pet’s location in real time, a smart collar can detect things like heart rate, body temperature, and daily activity. Again, this can be nice if you want to keep a watchful eye on your sick kitty or aging hound.
Do tracking devices work off a cellular network? Some do, some don’t—it all depends on which kind you get. For instance, Whistle runs on AT&T’s network, though that doesn’t mean you’ll have to switch providers if your phone plan isn’t with AT&T.
Do all tracking devices have monthly subscription plans? Many do, but not all of them. Some have plans for as little as $5–$10, whereas with some like Nuzzle, there’s no monthly fee.
Are all smart collars waterproof? This all depends on the type of GPS collar you have, but almost all are capable of being submerged in at least three feet of water—and that’s definitely a feature you want to have.
If you have a cat, you don’t run the risk of water damage as much as you would with a dog, but having a waterproof tracker is helpful if your feline falls into water or gets caught in a rainstorm.
Will GPS collars work on cats? Yes. Generally speaking, the smart collar industry is focused on dogs, but most collars are advertised for both dogs and cats.
How We Chose the Best GPS Pet Collars
As part of our methodology, we gathered this information by researching the best GPS pet trackers and comparing our updated findings to our 2017 review of the best GPS collars. We based our comparisons on accuracy, pricing, design, features, and customer reviews.
Used any of these products before? Tell us about it in the comments section below!