Microchip vs. Tractive GPS Tracker: What does your dog really need?

Although they serve different purposes, the answer is...both! For the safety of your dog, read on and learn the differences between Tractive GPS and microchip implants.

20 August 2018



Microchips for dogs are not to be mistaken with GPS tracking devices. This article will explain why it’s not possible to keep track of your dog by relying only on a microchip for dogs and why your dog needs both a microchip and a dog tracking device – Tractive GPS Tracker –  to be safe.

Microchips for dogs: uses and limitations

Chipping your dog is legally required in many countries. The reason? If your lost dog is found, an equipped vet can identify the owner by simply reading the 15-digit ID microchip, on which sensitive data is saved. But while you are on the search for your missing dog, the microchip for dogs is of no help.

The microchip for dogs is used to locate the dog’s owner, should a lost dog be found again. That’s why if you want to prevent your dog from going missing, you should be looking at the best solution to keep track of your dog in real time

The microchip is about 11 – 14 mm long and 2 – 2.2 mm thick. The microchip is implanted under the animal’s skin with a syringe that goes between its shoulder blades. The dog won’t feel any pain during the implantation process. It is with the use of an RFID device that your vet can read the microchip’s ID.gps tracker vs mircochip

Dog tracking device: Tractive GPS for real-time location

The main difference is that the microchip becomes useful only when the lost dog is eventually found again. Tracking devices like the Tractive GPS Tracker, on the other hand, offer the possibility to track your dog in real time. For this reason, the Tractive GPS Tracker has often been a lifesaver. But maybe you think that a Bluetooth Tracker could also do the job. Do you know which are the differences between a GPS Tracker and a Bluetoooth Tracker? If you are looking for real-time tracking and precise positioning of your dog anywhere in the world, a GPS Tracker is what you need.

The GPS Tracker has all of these characteristics:

  • a high-quality GSM module
  • a GPS antenna
  • a LED-light
  • a loudspeaker
  • a battery pack

It will be thus unthinkable to integrate all these components into a microchip for dogs, which has the size of a rice horn and a single antenna. Considering the components, Tractive GPS is a small device. Nevertheless, we recommend the use of Tractive GPS on dogs with a starting weight of 4.5 kg (9 pounds).

Overview of the features of a Tractive GPS Tracker and a microchip

Tractive GPS TrackerDog Microchip
51 x 41 x 15mmsize of a grain of rice
35 g0.025 g
Battery Life
2-5 DaysNo battery available
€ 49.99 Approximately € 84.00
Subscription Plan
Location History
Are you dependent of the help of others?
No. You are able to track your dog’s location on your smartphone.Yes. The dog must be found by someone, then brought to a vet. The microchip (in case the dog has one) has to be registered, so that the vet can read it.
Location Tracking?
Legally required?
NoDepending on the country
Vet required for use?
Protection against thieves?
No. Since you receive a notification every time your dog leaves a predetermined safe zone, you’ll be quickly informed should something happen to your four-legged best friend.No
Range of Operation
Worldwide, in over 150 countries, where there is a network signal.  Worldwide
Can you lose it?
Yes. The tracker clips are very stable and keep the tracker on the collar. They guarantee optimal protection against loss. Should the tracker get lost, you can easily replace it with the Tractive Care** service. Also, you should be able to track the device, in case it gets lost. If you’re not able to find the device, you get a replacement with Tractive Care.**No
Requirements related to size/weight of the dog
Suitable for dogs starting at 4.5 kgNo
Multiple usage
Yes. The GPS device can be removed from your dog’s collar anytime and can be attached to another dog’s collar.No, because it is implanted in your dog’s body.
Non-interchangeable SIM card

*A subscription plan is necessary, due to the fact that the Tractive GPS Tracker contains an integrated non-exchangeable SIM card. This is associated with monthly costs (similar to a smartphone).

**With Tractive Care, your Tractive GPS tracking device can be replaced with no additional costs for one time, in case of theft, damage or loss. Tractive Care can be added during the activation process.

dog tracking device vs microchip - all you need to know

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  1. Drew

    It’s definitely an advantage to be able to track in real time. Thanks for explaining the difference!

  2. James wilson

    Isnt there someone or something out that can go under your dogs skin so you can track them if they ever did get stolen. It would get a lot of pets back to there owners and if its under there skin it cant be removed. It doesnt have to be the size of a grain of rice like the micro chip. I was just wondering with the tech we have now adays and people so good with it could it be made. Or who would i speak to to ask them cause i think its needed with all these dogs being stolen for dog bating or for breeding and a lot never gettin return. But with a tracker under there skin you could ring the police and show them on the app when the dog is so then they could go and get it back for you and arrest the thieves. Please could you look into it or pass me some info so i can look into it cause i think it would stop dogs being stolen. Thanks for taki time to reax this and here from you soon. Thanks

    • Julian

      Hi James,

      of course it is still important to chip your dog! However it doesn’t give you the opportunity to locate him in an emergency situation.
      For an implanted GPS-tracker under the skin we probably have to wait some more decades, the current stage of development of the hardware is not yet ready for this.
      Sorry 😉

      Best regards,

      • walid charbachi

        Hi Julian,

        I´m interested in an implanted chip (GPS tracker) under the skin of all pets. can u help ?

        • Simon

          Dear Walid,

          I fear that such a technology does currently not exist.
          The available battery technologies that are available cannot be implanted due to their size.

          In case that there’ll be a major breakthrough you can count on Tractive to take full advantage of it. 🙂


          • Marilyn Toombs

            They have small batteries in pacers for humans. That last a very long time. They would bring my Mom in to test the battery every couple of years or so,

        • Joan-Marie Shepard

          I really wish they would figure it out . We just lost two bengal cats to coyotes and if we would of had a tracker they wouldn’t if Horton attacked . Is there a small tracker we could put in a harness in case they get out . I had a baby bengal in the house and we just bought a new one . But very Nervous they will get out .

      • John

        My dog got stolen cause pet log changed his ownership details on request from the thief without contacting me all I want is tracking implant for if my dog gets stolen

        • Krystle

          Oh my goodness!
          I hope you involved the police and got your dog back then, seen as you/the vet now know the thieves details. Changing ownership details should require written permission AND/OR a password/code as far as i’m concerned!

    • Mel

      Hi James, I totally agree with you. What good is a gps tracker on a collar going to do. The first thing they do when they take a poor innocent dog from their loving homes and family is remove their collars . There goes there gps tracker…. My pets being stolen, is my biggest nightmare . You could say I’m an over protective pet owner (but if it keeps them safe with me) it’s worth it. If there is a gps chip that can be put in as safe as the micro chip under the skin? I would be first in the que with my 3 babies. Mel

      • Simon

        Hi Mel,

        unfortunately the GPS Tracker needs power to operate which why it needs a battery. The battery cannot be implanted due to its size.
        In case there’ll be a scientific breakthrough in the battery technology, you can be certain that we’ll take leverage of it.

        All the best

    • Darren

      The tech is still too big and could cause cancer…When its cracked we will all have one, dogs and humans alike

      • April

        Thats too bad. A coller tracking device would be a viable solution for most people, however, our dogs are cattle dogs. They do not wear collers because you actually put their lives in more danger by making them wear them. I have had one dog that has almost strangled with a coller caught on barbed wire. Between that and dessert underbrush, its just not a solution. With the distance they might sometimes run, an under skin technology breakthrough would make finding them alot easier, expecially in our situation where our four-footed co-worker deals with job hazzards just like us, but can’t always call for help.

        • Laura

          Hi April,

          Thanks for your comment. Your contribution about cattle dogs is definitely valuable.

          Tractive Blog

  3. azg george

    Thanks for explaining the difference! Tractive Pet GPS tracker is a device that can keep you from panicking even when your pets are unleashed and let out without your knowledge. http://tracker24x7.com/category/pet_gps_tracker/ This article has variety information about pet gps tracker.

  4. Mervyn

    Good day

    trying to find out more about dog tracking units that can be incerted under the skin.

    want to bring into South Africa

    can you assist


    • Lisa

      Hi Mervyn,

      Please consider that our GPS Tracker is attached on the collar of the dog, so no implantation is needed.

      If you need more information about our GPS Tracker, please contact sales@tractive.com


  5. Jenny Harp

    The tracker on the collar can be removed and then you are out of luck. I have a service dog so I am not worried about him running off. I am concerned about him being stolen.

    • Janine

      Hi Jenny,

      thanks for your comment.
      It’s true that it is possible to remove the device from the collar, but you will know when and where your dog was taken – which is essential information in case of a theft.
      With the new generation of our tracker coming out in autumn you will even receive a warning as soon as the tracker is removed from the collar so you can react immediately to any attempt at theft.

      Kind regards,

  6. Emi

    But the system will not work if someone stole the dog because just take off the collar and lose the signal, exists the gps microchip implant in the market today?

    • Julian

      Hi Emi,

      the microship does not help you either when somebody attempts to steal our dog, however with the GPS-tracker you have the chance to locate the thief, or at least the place where it happened.
      In addition to that the GPS-tracker acts also as a deterrent for thieves, similar like an alarm system for a house.

      Best regards,

  7. karen

    Ok answers my question so can a ‘camera or finger print’ be inserted into the gps tracker collar as if it is taken off, the thief will have to put their finger on it or maybe a photo can be taken.
    Or how about, a coding system on the collar so only the owner or vet can take the collar off, and therefore, if someone trying to take it off an alarm goes off, if some sort of alarm is put on that could also be a deterrent. At the moment dogs are being stolen than ever before so something needs to be done to outsmart the thief.

    • Julian

      Hi Karen,

      We are aware of pet thieves, however it is at the moment technically not possible to prevent that the dog gets stolen with the device on it. Our trackers main purpose is to locate in case it went missing on its own.
      What we can do is to block the device from further usage. (on support request)

      Best regards,

    • Patricia Dean

      Hi Karen,
      I like that thought of the finger print and camera to catch the thief. I know that they have tiny pin cameras that are pretty much invisible to the naked eye, and that would work wonderful. It can record as soon as someone messes with the collar to take it off. That is when the thief, and the surroundings will be recorded. Hopefully the company can come up with something to protect our animals.

      Thank you,

  8. Paul Gansler

    as a dog owner, i appreciate the work your doing, as was mentioned in earlier comments, the holy grail is a tracker thats a chip, under the skin, admittedly thats ways away, but is this one small enough to be maybe sewn into his regular collar so if someone steals him, we have a chance of finding him,

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  10. James Bergman

    If it came down to choosing whether to use a microchip or a GPS tracking device I would have to choose the microchip. They are small and easy for vets to insert into your dog. No, there is no guarantee that your dog will be found, but it is smaller and will not ever get lost. However, there is nothing that says that you can’t use both.

    • Lena

      Hi James,

      That’s right. You can of course use both services.
      The microchip has unfortunately not the capabilities our Tractive GPS Tracker has.
      Microchips are working only passively. Which means you can only scan them with a reading device once your pet has been found.
      Our GPS Tracker on the other hand gives you full control. With the integrated Live Mode you can see the location of your pet in real time anytime you want to.

      You can contact our Support Team anytime if you need further information or help at http://tractive.com/contact


  11. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas

    Thanks a lot for sharing your great webpage

  12. Melissa

    As a dog lover, these differences are pretty effective for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa

      Hi Melissa,

      We are happy that our blog post is effective for you. If you have any questions due to the difference between microchip and Tractive GPS Pet Tracker, please contact us.


  13. Chelsea

    Which tracker is best for cat? I have a puppy also, is GPS tracker best for dog?

  14. Mike George

    I think GPS tracker is more smart than microchip. I have already used with GPS tracker.

    • Lisa

      Hi Mike George,

      Of course, the GPS tracker is more smart than microchip because you just have to fix the tracker on the collar of the dog.

      If you have any questions due to the difference between microchip and Tractive GPS, feel free to ask.


  15. George

    Excellent post! Thanks a lot for sharing.

  16. Patricia Russell

    Tracking dog with GPS tracker! Smart idea, like it.

  17. Jim Isbell

    Why not use a tracker that is NOT inserted into the animal, but attached to the collar? I see that a thief can quickly get rid of it, but theft is not the main concern for most of us. Would that not allow for a somewhat larger–but not too large, of a unit to be used? thanks

    • Simon

      Hi Jim,

      the reason why the Tracker cannot be implanted into your pet is the following:
      GPS and cellular receiver/transmitter need enough power to function properly.
      Current battery technologies like Li-Io batteries are heavy and big, which makes it nearly impossible to implant them.

      Rest assured that we’ll keep looking for new technology to make our products better.
      In case you’re interested in new and upcoming products you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to our Newsletter.

      All the best,

      • J Jones

        My dog goes swimming.
        A lot.
        Is the GPS tracker waterproof? And how long does the battery last please?

        Best Wishes,

        • Sarah

          Hi Jannie,

          yes, the GPS tracker is 100% waterproof so no worries when your dog goes swimming. The battery lasts 3-5 days (depends on how often/how long you have the LIVE-tracking turned on).


  18. mu2zen


    You’re doing great.

  19. Linda Hallman

    You need to have a tracker inside the collat not out. Outside can easily snag on something and pull the collar off

  20. John

    Do you have a product that will work without a mobile signal, we live in an area with no /poor mobile coverage

    • Sarah

      Hi John,

      for the trackers you do need mobile signal. But we do have other products where it isn’t necessary to have good phone connection (e.g. pet-remote or Tractive MOTION acticity tracker) That’s then without tracking though.


  21. Ashish Tripathi

    Wonderful insights here at you blog. It makes me even more curious. Very informative post.
    Nice collaboration, keep it up.

    Looking for Pet Tracker – Location based solution to keep your pets safe

  22. Maurice

    This really sucks. Not fair that the micro chip doesn’t track your pet. You say it can only be scanned if your lost pet is brought in. But what about the STOLEN pets that people definitely AREN’T gonna be bringing to the vet??? Should be able to track our stolen pets as well as the lost ones. Not fair. I give this 2 thumbs down.

    • Daisy

      Hi Maurice,

      I fear that such a technology does currently not exist.
      However, this is exactly why we saw a need for devices such as the Tractive GPS as this will allow you to track your pet at any point.

      In case that there’ll be a major breakthrough you can count on Tractive to take full advantage of it. 🙂


  23. StephanieRMontgomery

    Thank you for writing about pets. Please continue to do so. Really very nice and helpful article. This is really nice information for pets. you did a good job.

    • Laura

      Dear Reader,

      Thanks for your comment. Keep reading the Tractive Blog!

  24. sandra bertels

    I bought the tractive GPS. Indeed it is a smart thing working well in the city, but i wanted it to use for walks in the forest and there it doesn’t work because the tracker can not make connection with my mobile… So for me it is of no use at all. Why is it not specified??????????????

    • Simon

      Hi Sandra,

      as long as there’s a cell phone connection the Trackers are working flawlessly.
      Our Technical Support Team will be happy to help you out.

      Please send them a message with a detailed description, exact date and time, as well as your 8 digit Tracker ID:


  25. Nick

    Am I better off getting a GPS from you than the microchip my vet has recommended? Is it possible that the battery on your device might fail? If that does happen then what, will your device provide information that will help my dog be returned to me? I am also worried that if my dog runs into the woods (which he does often) that your device might come off of the collar, is that a possibility? My vet has provided me with very high proven number of pets that have been re-united using microchips, can you provide me with numbers as to how many times people have found their lost dogs with your device? I am really confused about what the better option is. My veterinarian swears a microchip is my best chance for reunification if my dog gets lost, but you are saying I should use your device instead. I really want to use your product but before I do, I want to ensure it is the best way for me to recover my dog. Can you provide me some stats or facts that I can bring to my vet for him to verify? Thanks so much

    • Simon

      Dear Nick,

      you have already received answers to your questions on Trustpilot and Facebook.
      Please check your mails and Facebook messenger.

      Kind regards,

    • Lasse

      I live in Sweden where all dogs must have some kind of ID. Some use a microchip others a tattooed ID. All dogs have to be registered in a national register. This is of course perfect if the dog run away and is found by someone.
      A tracker is of course a completely different thing, it helps you to find your dog right away.
      I have a dog who likes to run off into the woods. I bought a Tractive and I am very satisfied, it works perfect, has good battery time and is easy to use. I am recommending it.


  26. Nick

    Why did you delete my comment? I feel like that was very unprofessional. If you truly believed in your product, you would have answered my very legitimate comments?

    The fact that you deleted it from your page speaks volumes. I will now go and post the same questions as a review on your Facebook page.

    I really don’t understand why you would delete my comment….. is this really how you treat potential customers?

    • Simon

      Dear Nick,

      We do never delete comments. Comments need to be approved in order to be visible on our Blog. Approved comments are usually receiving immediate responses.
      You have already received an answer to your questions on Trustpilot as well as your Facebook private message.

      Kind regards,

  27. Rosemck

    How much is the cost of this tracker ?

    • Simon


      you can find all the prices and information about our Trackers in our webshop.
      Please follow the link below:


  28. Murat

    How can I buy.What’s it’s price.Thanks.

    • Laura

      Hi Murat,

      Thanks for your interest in purchasing Tractive GPS. Please visit our website for more information on prices: https://tractive.com/.


  29. Murat

    How can I buy.What’s it’s price.Thanks.I am interested in with microchip ones

    • Chelsea

      Dear Murat,

      You can view prices and purchase a GPS tracker in our webshop at https://tractive.com/

      Best regards,

  30. Lynette

    Sounds great but let’s say your pet was stolen, you pull app up to locate but the thief takes off the collar and destroys gps?

    • Sanda

      Dear Lynette,

      Thank you for your question. We hope that no pet owner will ever have to experience this. Nevertheless, the Tractive GPS Trackers are not anti-theft devices.

      Best regards, Sanda

  31. Aimara

    Hi, I was wondering what the difference is between the hunter’s edition and the other version. Does the battery last longer?
    Thank you

    • Sanda

      Dear Aimara,

      The Tractive GPS Hunter Edition is specially designed for hunting dogs. The battery lasts longer with Tractive GPS XL. Here: https://tractive.com/eu_en/co/tracker you can find an overview of our products and what differences are among them, so you can chose the right one for your pet 🙂

      Best, Sanda

  32. tenver

    Sure. Tractive GPS for real-time location is really cool!
    I also have a post about GPS Dog Collar.
    You can learn more on my review site: http://gpsdogcollarpro.com/

    • Sanda

      Hey Tenver,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      Best, Sanda

  33. Kika

    I live in a place with no cell phone service, I only have service at my house thanks to a micro cell antenna. Any hopes for something that I could track my 2 dogs without cell cover? Or it’s like a cell phone that the GPS keeps “kinda” working without cell service and at least from the house I can see if the dogs went right or left?

    • Simon


      The Tractive GPS Trackers are unfortunately depending on a cellular connection. The data connection is being used to transfer the location data. The cellular connection enables the device to be trackable all over the world without a limitation in distance.
      As long as there’s a proper signal the device can be found almost everywhere.

      Details can be found in our Help Center at:

      Please contact us at http://tractive.com/contact in case you need further information.


  34. Becky

    I had my $5K Blue Frenchie stolen a little over a month ago and he was chipped. We have not been able to locate him and have notified pet-finder and all vets and shelters in our area. I don’t think me having a tracker on his collar would/could help me find him, as they probably would have taken his collar off and destroyed it. I agree there needs to be something that can be put under the skin to help locate. I am devastated and am looking everyday for him.

    • Sanda

      Dear Becky,

      We are terribly sorry for your loss. Neither the Microchip nor the Tractive GPS are anti-theft devices. Nevertheless, they are both proven to be very useful in cases where dogs run away or get lost and can’t find their way back home. Losing your precious 4-legged friend is a nightmare for every dog parent.
      Our thoughts are with you and we hope you’ll find your dog soon!

      Best regards,

  35. Theresa

    Hi I am very interested in a GPS tracking device where I can track where my dog is at all times from my own cell phone laptop or computer. I’m looking for a tracking device for our families pure bread German Shepherd as there has been a lot of thefts going on with purebread dogs and I would like to have some sort of tracking device that should that happen I can put my pets info into our computer and the GPS will let us know where about a he is so we can let the police know. Could u pls email me the price of such a device and instructions on how and where to have this preformed on our beloved dog. Cause if he is stolen noone is about to turn him in to animal control so they would be able to check his chip. Not if he is stolen so we need a tracking device we can monitor ourselves and locate him if he is taken. Thanks so much for your help.

    • Sanda

      Hi Theresa,

      Thank you for your question. For more information about our products and service plans, please visit https://tractive.com/gen/. While Tractive GPS is not an anti-theft device, in case it doesn’t gets taken off of the collar of your dog, a Tractive GPS tracker can help you track the location of your dog in real-time and may save you lots of trouble.

      Kind regards,