GPS vs Bluetooth tracker: What’s best for pets?

29 April 2020

Trying to decide if a Bluetooth tracker or GPS tracker is best for your pet? Learn the main differences to make the best decision for your furry friend!

Woman in forest with dog wearing GPS tracker

In today’s rapidly changing times, one might easily lose sight of all the different technologies available. After all, there are many misconceptions about technology for pets in general. Maybe you find yourself, wondering what is the best pet tracker for your own pet. Is it a GPS tracker or a Bluetooth tracker?

This article explains the differences between a GPS tracker and a Bluetooth tracker. It also illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of the two devices, to make it easier for you to decide which tracker option to go for.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS tracker?

Below we’ve summarized some of the main advantages and disadvantages of GPS pet trackers:

Advantages of a GPS tracker

  1. Global coverage (usually)
  2. Precise localization using GPS technology
  3. Unlimited range: even when your dog is located thousands of kilometers away, you can still locate his position.
  4. Independent localization, without the need of a second smartphone

Disadvantages of a GPS tracker

  1. Sometimes GPS interference might occur (for example, indoors)
  2. Dependent on mobile signal, so low costs are associated with the usage of the GPS tracker

The following example can better illustrate the way in which a GPS tracker can help to precisely locate your dog. Your dog just ran away and he has a GPS device attached to his collar. There is no limitation for the range of the GPS tracker. This means that your dog might find himself not only kilometers away, over the border, but he can also be detected on very far distances. You will always know the exact location of your dog via your smartphone. Therefore, you are not dependent on the external help of others and you are able to hug your dog again in no time.

Facts check: Is it possible to implant GPS trackers in dogs or cats?

More advantages of a GPS tracker:

  • Real time localization
  • 100% waterproof
  • Virtual Fence: you can set up a predefined fence, for example, around your house. As soon as your dog will leave this virtual safe zone, you will receive a notification on your smartphone.
  • 24 hr position history: find out where your dog was in the last 24 hours
  • Real-time localization: with this function, you know what your dog is up to in this very moment
  • Long battery life of 2-5 days

Discover Tractive GPS

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Bluetooth tracker?

Advantages of a Bluetooth tracker:

  • Very exact localization, but only within 10 meters
  • Low susceptibility to noise
  • Lower costs  (starting at 25€ for a Bluetooth tracker compared to 49€ for a GPS tracker)

Disadvantages of a Bluetooth tracker:

  • Requires Bluetooth on your smartphone
  • Very limited reach (10 m outdoors, indoors dependent on the room)
  • If the pet is located outside of the 10 meter radius, the device has to fall back on an external, foreign smartphone (Requirement: Location service + Bluetooth of the foreign smartphone are active and the same Bluetooth app is installed), so that the localization feature functions.

Tractive GPS vs Bluetooth Tracker

When your dog is located inside the Bluetooth reach, you are able to track your dog. Should your dog be located outside of this reach, then you are not able to track your dog with a Bluetooth tracker any longer.

Only when your dog is located inside the Bluetooth reach, you are able to find him. Outside this reach, you are powerless.

This example can illustrate better for you the localization of your dog with a Bluetooth tracker:

Your dog just ran away and he is located outside the 10 m Bluetooth reach. The Bluetooth tracker needs to connect with a foreign smartphone of another person, who has the matching App X installed and the Location-Service as well as Bluetooth functions on. The tracker will determine its position based on the smartphone position. Only then the tracker can send you its position.

The most important difference is that, with a GPS tracker, you can always locate your dog, whereas with a Bluetooth tracker this is not the case.

You will have to be lucky, so that a stranger in the area has the same Bluetooth tracker app installed as you have and that he has his Location-Service and Bluetooth activated. Only if and when these 3 conditions are met, your Bluetooth tracker will be able to send data to your smartphone. Should one of these requirements not be met, you will not be able to locate your Bluetooth tracker and your dog. Due to this reason, Bluetooth trackers are not the ideal devices for tracking your pet.

The most popular Bluetooth tracker providers are:

  • Trackr
  • Tile and
  • Orbit

Final Comparison: GPS vs Bluetooth Tracker

In the case of a GPS tracker, you are not dependent on external persons and you will be able to track your dog with no exception. When using a Bluetooth tracker, you are highly dependent and limited by the small reach. Should your dog be located inside the 10 meters of your smartphone, you’ll be able to track him. But when your dog runs away, he may travel much farther than the 10 meters range of the Bluetooth tracker, because he is discovering the world on his own.

The Bluetooth tracker functions very well for locating objects in your immediate reach, for example, for finding your keys or your bag inside your house. But when it comes to locating the exact position of your pet, the Bluetooth trackers are only partially effective, due to their limited operational range. Therefore, a GPS tracker is the best option for tracking the location of your pet!

Don’t take our word for it; check out the following video from GetPixie or read their full comparison of GPS trackers vs Bluetooth trackers here.

Curious to learn more about how GPS trackers for dogs and cats work? Read more about the Tractive GPS.


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