Reuniting you with your lost pet only scratches the surface of what a GPS dog collar promises these days. A new generation of “smart” dog tracking collars can save your pet’s life in more ways than one. By monitoring your pup’s health and fitness — tracking everything from their activity levels and sleep patterns to water intake and food portions — pet parents can be alerted to changes in their dog’s behavior which could signal early signs of illness before the symptoms are advanced (not to mention, more expensive to treat). If you, like us, are always wondering what your pet is thinking or feeling, then smart dog collars can clue you in!
But are they one-size-fits-all? Good question. These days, more than 50% of U.S. households have small dogs and the trend is growing. More families are choosing French Bulldogs, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus — and every imaginable mix of small-breed dogs in between — to share their lives with. Pet parents often have trouble finding safe gear that can fit their small dogs (13-23 lbs), extra-small and toy dogs (5-12 lbs), and puppies who can literally buckle under the weight of many pet GPS trackers.
So when comparing the following smart dog collars on our pets, we took tracking range and battery life into consideration (keeping tabs on your pup 24/7 so if they get lost, you have the best chance of quickly finding them, is undoubtedly important), but also really focused on the cutting-edge, life-saving health and fitness features for all dogs — even the little ones.
- Which smart collar captures the most accurate information about my dog’s health?
- Which smart collar will help me set goals for my dog’s health and fitness so I can see when we make progress (good boy!) or need to step it up?
- Which smart collar is going to be light enough for my small dog to wear comfortably around his neck?
- Which smart collar makes accessing data about my dog’s health as seamless as possible?
- Which smart collar will make it easy to relay information about my dog’s health to my vet?
The results? Hands down, we were most impressed by the new Whistle Switch Smart Collar for the device’s high-tech health and fitness features, beautifully designed app interface, and nifty Tele-Vet Chat access. Find out why below...
1. Whistle Switch Smart CollarThe Bark’s Top Pick!
The Switch Smart Collar, the latest offering from Whistle, comes with big benefits for small dogs. It provides near-instant tracking (every 15 seconds), quick-swap batteries, 24/7 health monitoring, fitness tracking, and access to a Tele-Vet Chat via the Whistle app (iOS and Android). With the app, you’ll also get alerts about behavioral health issues like excessive licking and itching, which could be triggered by allergies or indicate an underlying infection; increased drinking, which can be the first sign of kidney disease or diabetes; and sleep disruptions, which can point to sleep disorders or insomnia. Whistle’s algorithm analyzes all this behavior, presents the data in user-friendly charts, and sends a 30-day summary straight to your vet. You can even set fitness goals based on your dog’s breed, size, and age. Small and extra-small dog owners: yes, Whistle makes collars small enough to suit your pups. The sleek, lightweight design (under an ounce) beats out any other smart dog collar we tested.
- Tracks dogs weighing as little as 5 lbs
- GPS tracking updates every 15 seconds
- Comprehensive health and activity monitoring
- User-friendly app and software
- Calculator for food portioning
- Tele-Vet Chat
- Two interchangeable batteries so that you are always connected
- Uses the AT&T 4G LTE network
- $199.95 ($179.95 with a 1 or 2-year subscription plan)
2. FitBark GPS
The FitBark dog tag touts itself as one of the lightest dog GPS trackers and sends location updates every minute. Its smart features also monitor your dog’s sleep quality, distance traveled, and calories burned. FitBark integrates with your own fitness monitoring apps like FitBit so your dog’s activity levels can be viewed beside your own. It’s a good option for those with better coverage under Verizon’s network.
- Tracks dogs weighing as little as 5 lbs
- GPS tracking updates every minute
- Battery lasts 10-20 days
- Requires Wi-Fi and Verizon LTE-M coverage
- $99.95 plus a subscription plan
3. Garmin T5 Mini Dog Device
We covered Garmin before, and it still ranks well in the GPS dog collar category, especially for hiking enthusiasts because it doesn’t rely on a cellphone network. But that comes at a much steeper upfront cost and requires the use of a separate handheld tracking device with much less battery life. It also lacks smart features such as health and fitness monitoring.
- Minimum neck size of 9”, weighing at least 15 lbs
- GPS tracking updates every 2.5 seconds
- No health or fitness “smart” features
- Battery lasts up to 20 hours
- Tracks dogs for up to 4 miles of range
- $249.99, requires an additional handheld device
4. Fi Smart Dog Collar
The Fi Smart Collar is one of the newer GPS dog collars on the market. The main draw for this smart dog collar is battery life. The Fi tracks your dog through AT&T’s low-power network and utilizes your in-home WIFI to extend battery life. And the Fi app monitors your pet’s activity levels which you can compare with those of other dogs of the same breed who are also wearing Fi collars. It’s a worthy contender, but not the best bet for small and extra-small dogs given the 15-lb minimum weight.
- Minimum neck size of 11”, weighing at least 10 lbs
- GPS tracking updates up to 5 minutes
- Batteries last up to 60 days
- Uses the AT&T LTE-M network
- $99 plus a subscription plan
5. Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
The Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker doesn’t use cell service to supplement location tracking like the Garmin, so there’s no monthly fee with this one. This dog GPS tracker works by pinging a companion device that you hold. Take note, like other GPS-only trackers, the battery and range are limited.
- Tracks dogs weighing at least 8 lbs
- GPS tracking updates every 5-10 seconds
- Battery lasts up to 7 days
- Tracks dogs for up to 3 miles of range
- $149.99, no monthly fee