Product Review: GPS dog collars ensure you can (almost) always find a lost pet

Dogs wearing Tagg Pet Tracker GPS collars
Dogs wearing Tagg Pet Tracker GPS collars: the device weighs 1.1 ounces and is 3.2 x 1 x 1.5 inches . It clips on to the collar. (Click photo for more info)

If you have a runaway dog, consider the new GPS collars which work with smart phones

My six-year-old Scottish Terrier Bridget is a bolter. She’s escaped from our fenced-in backyard, out the front door when we were moving, and on the occasional off-leash walk. The habit has actually gotten worse as she’s gotten older and acquired more confidence about her ability to survive in the big city without her annoying peeps.

Yes, she has a tag with our contacts and a microchip, but neither of those are any help until she has been captured by a human who phones to tell us Bridget has been found. Sometimes, we spend hours worried she’ll be dognapped or hit by a car. That’s why I want to get her a GPS  collar  that will let me locate her right away on my iPhone.

Tagg and Tractive Pet Trackers

In the U.S., there are two brands of GPS dog collars that work with smart phones: the Tagg Pet Tracker ($100) (shown above) and the Tractive GPS Pet Tracker (shown below), both of which are available on Amazon.

Tagg used to say it used the Verizon network, but now its more vague, stating only that it operates on “America’s most reliable cellular network.” Tractive says it uses a number of networks.

Prices and subscriptions to access the networks and track your pet’s whereabouts vary. At the time of writing, the lowest Tagg rate was $6.95 per month while Tractive’s cheapest offer was $4.99 per month. These rates do jump around, however.

With both Tractive and Tagg, you can track your dog (or cat) on your computer or via an app on your smart phone to pinpoint their location. Now when Bridget runs away on a walk, all I have to do is whip out my iPhone and I can see exactly where she is. True, I’m in a big city most of the time but the range is unlimited — as long as there’s data coverage.

Will my dog like a GPS collar?

Tracking collars have gotten less bulky than when they first came out and they’re billed as being okay for small dogs and even cats, but it probably depends on what your pet will tolerate. Some users have suggested that any animal under 12 pounds is not a good candidate for these collars.

Cat wearing Tagg GPS Pet Tracker Collar
Hmm, wonder how much this kitty weighs?

Coverage outside the U.S.

Tractive works in more than 80 countries.

The Tractive GPS device leverages the local cell phone infrastructure to communicate with the Tractive apps. In order for this to work, Tractive has agreements with many cell phone operators and carriers in all countries listed above. Depending on the cell coverage of the different carriers, you might not have signal everywhere in those countries. Typically, Tractive should work wherever your cell phone works in those countries, but it can’t guarantee 100% coverage.


If you’re in the U.S., it’s a toss-up between Tagg and Tractive. Otherwise, it’s Tractive alone. In the opinion of the Scottish Terrier and Dog News, both are good options.

Buy your GPS pet tracker on Amazon now