The Findster Duo beat out the other pet trackers we looked at thanks to its subscription-free service, super-easy setup, and versatile bonus features like geofencing. Even though the upfront price is higher, it’s still cheaper than every other tracker on our list (except our budget pick) when you add in one year of the lowest-tier monthly fee. And if you plan to use your pet tracker for more than one year, even the Tractive becomes more expensive.
That said, each GPS tracker we’ve included in our top five has its own trump card—whether it’s the pinpoint accuracy of the Whistle 3’s geolocation sensor, the stand-out looks of the Link AKC, or the flexible fit of the Pod 3. Find out which one is the right fit for your furry friend in the reviews below.
An awesome pet tracker that doesn’t require a monthly subscription? Yes, please. The Findster Duo provides real-time GPS tracking without relying on cell coverage. That gives you more freedom to hit the trail without worrying about your little tail-wagger getting lost.
And it helps you monitor your pet while you’re at work too. You can set safe zones to keep Fido out of dangerous or off-limits spots (like the kitty litter box), and if he enters the danger zone, you get an instant alert. Get all the details in our full review.
With rave reviews on Amazon (and just about everywhere else—including from our in-house tester), the Whistle 3 is a standout among pet GPS trackers. Its reliability, durability, and accuracy make the Whistle 3 a true partner when it comes to keeping track of your four-legged friends.
We were impressed with its accurate geolocation sensor, quick setup, and user-friendly app. Plus, you don’t need to get your pooch or puss used to a new collar—this small device attaches to their existing neckwear.
You don’t have to blow your monthly budget to keep an eye on your best friend. The Tractive GPS 3G comes in around $75 and has subscription fees that work out to $5 a month if you pick a two-year plan.
In addition to live tracking, this pet tracker also has a hunting dog version with more durable, waterproof construction. That kind of durability lets your buddy run free through the bush, water, and other rugged terrain—without causing you worry.
Have a pooch who likes to prance? Then this smart dog collar with GPS tracking should be on your must-list. You’ll love the hip design that’s available in either leather or sport options. But beauty comes at a price—the Link AKC is about three times heavier than other GPS pet trackers.
Style may add weight to this pet tracker, but it doesn’t sacrifice substance. This smart collar features an adventure map tracker, a remote control light, and a remote sound-training feature. Plus, the app stores vet records, so you have all your buddy’s details at the ready.
The Pod 3 isn’t leaving anything to chance when it comes to finding your fur-baby. This tracker combines GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 2G/3G to beat out its competitors in coverage. And the company is known to offer killer deals on its required subscription. As I type these words, there is a free, lifetime subscription on the table.
The biggest downside to this pet tracker is the awkward design—it looks like those barrels you often see on the neck of a St. Bernard. Some may find it charming—we just find it bulky. But the company makes up for it a wee bit with both desktop and smartphone access to the app.
Comfy fit for cats
Things to Consider in a GPS Pet Tracker
Pet trackers are not one-size-fits-all, and many are designed for medium-sized or larger pets. Pay attention to the size and weight of the tracker. Even though most are designed to attach to your pet’s existing collar, trackers can be bulky and uncomfortable for smaller pets.
The good news is that most pet trackers disclose up front if their product works for cats and other diminutive pets. So, if you need to find the right GPS pet tracker for a 7-pound dog, consider searching for trackers that specify compatibility with felines.
If you have a rambunctious pup that never seems to sit still, you want a pet tracker that has a good track record for battery life. Most trackers let you select different modes depending on whether you’re out on a hike, at the dog park, or just chilling at home. The difference between the settings is how often the tracker checks in on your pet’s location and how often it sends you alerts.
Trackers that offer live tracking usually update every 30 seconds, so you have a constant stream of notifications about your pet’s location. That’s a great feature, especially if you have a runner, but it drains battery life quickly. If you want to use live tracking often, seek out a pet GPS tracker with rock-star reviews for battery life when in active mode.
Where You Go with Your Pet
Maybe you’ve got a city dog (like me) or perhaps your pooch is more free-range, like Chevy Chase’s Irish Setter in the movie Funny Farm. If your dog is likely to jump in ponds after ducks and engage in other similar shenanigans, you want a tracker that can stand up to the elements. And it needs to be waterproof.
While most pet GPS trackers are water-resistant, there are different levels of water durability. You don’t want your investment to go kaput the first time Rover gets a penchant for waterfowl, so look for waterproof not water-resistant, and don’t be shy about combing customer reviews to find out how waterproof a tracker really is. The Whistle 3 is rated waterproof IPX7, which means it can be submerged in up to four feet of water for up to half an hour.
Pet GPS Tracker FAQs
What’s the difference between GPS tracking and a microchip?
The difference between a microchip and a GPS collar is the way each one helps keep your pet safe. With microchips, you can’t track your pet in real time and they can be identified only 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.
With a GPS collar, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, and 3G technologies ping your animal’s location, allowing you to track them in real time or download a map of their most recent jaunt. This is one of the big reasons why GPS collars for dogs and cats have become so popular. But GPS pet trackers rely on battery life and they can be removed or lost.
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, 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.
On the other hand, if you choose to go with a GPS collar on its own, you risk losing your pet for good if the tracker runs out of juice or gets removed somehow. A microchip is extra insurance if your pet’s tracker gets lost or stops working.
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. Most have plans for as little as $5–$10, but others like our top pick, Findster Duo, don’t require a monthly fee.
Are all smart collars waterproof?
This depends on the type of GPS collar you have, but many 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.
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more