Bluetooth trackers, GPS trackers…Bluetooth GPS trackers? Whether it’s for your keys, car, dog, or cat, you’ll need to know which tracking device best suits your needs. Because when it comes to our furry friends, your choice of tracker can either help you find them safe and sound…or never see them again.

But when it comes to picking the right one, which one do you even go for? (Especially while scrolling through Amazon and finding yourself…well, kinda spoiled for choice!)

In a nutshell: yes, there do exist pet trackers that combine both Bluetooth and GPSlike Tractive. What’s more, there’s a reason why the Tractive GPS is considered the world’s most reliable dog and cat tracker, by happy pet parents around the world – just like you.

So in this post, we’re going to cover the main differences between GPS and Bluetooth trackers – and what sets Tractive apart. Let’s get started.

What are Bluetooth trackers & how do they work?

Bluetooth trackers are small devices that use your phone’s Bluetooth connectivity to locate items – primarily at very short distances. In fact, most of these trackers – like Apple’s Airtag, Life360’s Tile tag, or even the upcoming Google AirTag alternative – are designed to help you locate items. Like your:

  • Keys
  • Wallet
  • Backpacks
  • Bikes
  • …and other important personal items that don’t tend to move around a ton by themselves.
Bluetooth tracker key finder
Bluetooth Key Finder (Credit: Amazon)

⚠️ Note: personal items. Not dogs. Not cats. Bluetooth trackers are generally a poor choice for tracking living, moving animals because of their range limitations and lack of pet-friendly features.

Why Bluetooth trackers aren’t the best for living, moving animals

Pure Bluetooth trackers only work when the lost object is close to your phone, usually up to 30 – 40 meters.

  • In other words, if your dog runs off or your cat hides away and leaves Bluetooth range, it’s not very likely you’ll be able to find them with a Bluetooth tracker.
  • Most Bluetooth trackers also do not use GPS at all, although some may falsely claim they do. (So make sure to double-check the next time you’re on Amazon and one of these sounds a bit too good to be true!)
A dog running in a field

green check markBluetooth Tracker: Pros

  • Long battery life (months to years)
  • Can usually be attached to any surface or collar
  • Very exact localization, but only within limited range
  • Lower costs (starting at $25 for a Bluetooth tracker compared to $49 for a GPS tracker)
  • Generally small and lightweight, although size varies

red xBluetooth Tracker: Cons

  • Very limited range (10 – 60 meters)
  • Made for tracking items, not pets
  • Requires Bluetooth on your phone
  • Limited features for pet parents
  • If your pet is out of Bluetooth range, the tracker will try to use someone else’s phone nearby to get a location. So you’re limited to a network of available devices nearby.
  • Could be swallowed by a pet

⚠️ Because think about it – a dog that’s off chasing prey or a cat that’s out patrolling their outdoor territory might cover several miles in just a few minutes. Which makes your Bluetooth tracker useless past a certain range.

GPS vs Bluetooth tracker range comparison infographic

And if you’re out hiking with your pet, you’re unlikely to find any fellow Android or Apple users nearby whose devices can help you find them.

Read more: “Find My Device” Trackers: Not Ideal For Pets

A cat exploring the outdoors

💡In times like these, you’re best off with a dedicated pet GPS tracker.

And even better, one that uses both GPS and mobile connectivity – so you’ve got an entire sky full of satellites helping you find your lost pet:

  • In real-time,
  • Over an unlimited range,
  • While on vacation – or 175 countries if you’re on a Premium subscription

All with just a glance at your phone – and once you hit “LIVE” on your Tractive mobile app:

Tractive GPS app feature screenshot LIVE Tracking
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ivelin-150x150.png

Much like the AirTag, your Tractive GPS tracker can use a short range radio to help determine your pet’s location.

But unlike the AirTag, Tractive also uses mobile connectivity and GPS. So even if your tracker is nowhere near another mobile device, it’ll still be able to send data to the Tractive servers.

So you can quickly and easily see your pet’s location in the app.

– Ivelin Nenkov, Embedded Systems Engineer at Tractive since 2016

Discover Tractive GPS

What are GPS trackers & how do they work?

GPS trackers are, like the name implies, tracking devices that use GPS technology. That’s short for Global Positioning System, which can tell you where an object is on Earth1. GPS was developed by the US military and made available for civilian use in 1996.

gps tracker app close up

The Library of Congress explains:

GPS is the only system that can show you your exact position on Earth at anytime, in any weather, no matter where you are.

Why does any good GPS tracker worth its salt need a SIM card?

Because in a nutshell, a GPS tracker with a built-in SIM card is the reason it can connect to mobile networks around the world. (175 countries, to be price – if you’re on a Tractive device.)

💡Meaning you can track your dog or cat in real-time – from the comfort of your beach chair, even while on vacation, and even if your pets are thousands of miles away!

A dog playing on a beach on vacation

⚠️GPS trackers without SIM cards do exist. In fact, most Bluetooth trackers don’t tend to come with built-in SIM cards. But they can’t help you track your dog or cat in real-time. Nor are they specifically built for pets.

On the other hand, with Tractive’s built-in SIM card, you can pick up on your pet’s location with just a glance at your phone.

green check markGPS Tracker: Pros

  • Worldwide coverage with GPS technology
  • Unlimited range, which lets you see where your cat or dog is, no matter how far
  • Allows for real-time location tracking
  • Precise localization

red xGPS Tracker: Cons

Tractive Trustpilot review

Track Your Pets On Vacation

Locating your pet with the Tractive GPS

Let’s say your dog just ran off into the woods, chasing a woodland animal – but with a GPS dog tracker attached to their collar.

brown dog wearing gps tracking collar

Your GPS tracker has unlimited range, so no matter how far away your dog roams, you can find them using a mobile or web app.

You don’t have to rely on help from others, and can be back to cuddling your furry friend in no time.

Or, say, your cat steps out of a “safe zone” that you’ve set up via the Tractive app on your device. (Like your backyard.)

Your Tractive device immediately picks up that your cat is venturing outside of safety – and sends you an escape alert.

So you can intervene quickly and prevent them from roaming into a dangerous area.

one eyed cat wearing harness sitting outside in forest
Cattery owner and trainer, Clair Chesterman

“Tractive is the #1 cat GPS tracker in the industry. And it’s the highest quality cat tracker you can find. I was able to set the safe zone as my house area and once my cat gets outside I get an alert right away.

In fact, it probably saved my cat’s life that time she chased a bird and got lost. She was scared and I was able to find her with the help of the GPS tracker.

Tractive’s chip frequently calculates your cat’s location and is updated on the map every 2-3 seconds. Furthermore, the LED will help you guard your furry friend at night.”

– Clair Chesterman, Owner of CFA and CCA-registered cattery and fostering company, FluffyMeowPaws

Always know where your pets are

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your pet too.

Discover GPS & Health Trackers For Pets

What you can expect if you try locating your pet with Bluetooth instead

When your pet is in Bluetooth range, you’ll be able to track them. Once they’re out of Bluetooth range, though, you stop being able to track them with a Bluetooth tracker.

Say your dog just ran away – and they’re outside Bluetooth range. A Bluetooth tracker will only be helpful if:

  1. It connects to someone’s phone nearby…
  2. Who has the same app as you…
  3. And has location & Bluetooth turned on on their phone.

Which, if you’re out hiking, camping, or exploring the woods or wilderness with your pet aren’t likely.

A dog standing on top of a mountain overlooking a forest

In short, Bluetooth trackers are not ideal for tracking your pet.

💡 Bottom line: With a GPS tracker – unlike with a Bluetooth tracker – you can locate your dog or cat no matter how far they roam.

What about Bluetooth trackers that can connect to a “Find my device” network?

Now you might’ve heard of the newest Bluetooth trackers on the block – like from Chipolo or Pebblebee – that connect to Google’s newest “Find my device” network. Theoretically, if you:

  • Use a Bluetooth tracker
  • …and register it as a device to your Android phone…

…then you should be able to track it down at unlimited range with the system of wider Android devices around you, right?

Not quite. Google’s new network of Android devices is still patchy at best – and it’s still limited to a network of devices like any other Bluetooth tracker. (Meaning it’s already not an option if you’re an iOS user.) Plus, it’s pretty useless if you’re outdoors and away from other Android users.

A person holding a smartphone with live GPS tracking on

Now if you ask us, this whole process is pretty roundabout and cumbersome – i.e. connecting a Bluetooth tracker to Google’s Find my device network and then hoping for the best. But it might (just might) come in handy if you lose your dog or cat in a city full of Android users whose devices will pick up on your buddy’s Bluetooth tracker signal…

…but which also includes pet thieves, who aren’t likely to return your dog or cat to you if you’ve got a rare breed or one you haven’t gotten spayed or neutered.

Bringing in the best of both worlds: Bluetooth GPS Trackers

Good news: To get the best of both worlds, you can get a Bluetooth GPS tracker for your cat or dog.

That’s right – you don’t have to choose! Your trusty Tractive device actually comes with both GPS and Bluetooth-style tracking to pinpoint your pet’s location – both at long-range and short-range alike.

💡For example, Tractive’s Radar Mode helps you track down your buddy at short-range via Bluetooth instead.

Tractive Radar Mode

Perfect for locating your dog or cat if they’ve snuck into a risky hiding spot indoors. (Like your washer, dryer, a too-snug cupboard or cabinet, or even your rafters!)

Besides, you can also track your pets via:

  • Augmented Reality mode, which locates your pets via a pin overlay
  • Light, which triggers a small LED light to help you track your dog or cat in dark spots
  • Sound, which triggers a high-pitched melody to help you track your pet audibly.

Track Your Pets Close & Far

Tile Bluetooth Tracker vs Tractive GPS Tracker Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of two of the best-selling trackers in their field: the Tile Bluetooth Tracker and the Tractive GPS for dogs and cats.

tile bluetooth tracker
Tile Bluetooth Tracker
tractive gps tracker white
Tractive GPS
PurposeTrack keys, bags and other stuffAlways know where your furry friend is
Subscription PlanNot necessary, but a Premium subscription is required to unlock all featuresUnlimited range + coverage costs all covered from as little as $4.99 / month
Range200 feetunlimited
BatteryUp to 1 year battery life, replaceableUp to 7 days battery life, rechargable
Water DurabilityWater-resistant100% Waterproof (IPX7-standard)
Dimensions35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm17.5mm x 71.4mm x 28mm
Location History
Last Known Coordinates
Tracker Sharing
LIVE Tracking
Worldwide Coverage
Virtual Fence / Safe Zone
Activity tracking
Sleep tracking
Health alerts
Wifi / Home Power Saving Zone
Shock Resistant & Adventure-proof

Light & Sound
Sound only

Track Your Pets With Tractive

Wrapping up: Invest in a Bluetooth GPS tracker for max security

In a nutshell: Bluetooth trackers are generally designed to be ‘thing finders.’ They’re best for finding personal items like your keys or wallet.

  • Despite perks like small size and long battery life, their range is way too limited for a living, moving animal.
  • More importantly, Bluetooth trackers do not use GPS. So if your dog or cat leaves Bluetooth range, you can’t rely on a Bluetooth tracker to help find your pet.
A woman walking off-leash with her dog through a forest

💡GPS trackers, on the other hand, are often made specifically for pets.

They often come with built-in Bluetooth-style technology and WiFi to bring you the most accurate location possible. Including extra perks like:

All this on one device – built with love for pets. (And for your peace of mind as a pet parent.)

A woman holding a cat wearing a Tractive GPS
Tractive Trustpilot review

Always know where your pets are

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your pet too.

Discover GPS & Health Trackers For Pets

Want to see how Tractive works but strapped for time? Here’s a video that covers it in just 2 minutes:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a tech-savvy pet parent you know and love – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.