We’ve all felt that prick of anxiety when we can’t keep track of our furry friends. It’s why dog trackers are getting so popular for pet parents around the world. But with so many devices on the market, you might be wondering: which is the best fit for my dog? Does it make sense using a Bluetooth tracker like the Tile tag for dogs? (Especially when they’re off wandering long distances?)

In a nutshell: Tile trackers are better for finding items like your wallet or keys – when it comes to your dog, your best choice is a dedicated pet GPS tracker. Here’s what to expect when you use a Tile tag to find your dog.

GPS vs. Bluetooth tracking: A quick breakdown

If you’ve Googled “pet tracking device,” you’ve likely come across a ton of options. And with all these, which one to pick? Here are some common types of pet trackers – and how they work in a nutshell:

GPS pet trackers

These devices use GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to quickly pick up your dog’s location. With the signals they receive from local satellites, they help visually guide you to where they are.

Bluetooth pet trackers

Like Tile and the Apple AirTag. These connect with Bluetooth networks on your phone and track your items as long as they’re within range. Once they pick up your dog’s location, they usually let out an alarm or a ringtone to guide you to them.

Bluetooth GPS pet trackers

Like the Tractive GPS. Combining the best of both worlds, these devices use both Bluetooth and GPS functionality to locate your dog virtually anywhere on the planet. The Tractive GPS, for example, connects with mobile networks around the world – so you can track your pets no matter where you are.

packaging of the Tractive GPS DOG tracker

Always know where your dog is

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 dog too.

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We cover a detailed comparison of GPS and Bluetooth pet trackers to help you understand what best fits your needs. Now let’s dive into how Tile works in action.

How does Tile work for tracking?

Tile is a small, Bluetooth-powered device that works in three simple steps. Here they are:

  • Download the Tile app to your phone to connect it to your tracker via Bluetooth.
  • Attach your Tile tag to one of your personal items – like your bike, a piece of luggage, or your backpack.
  • From the app, tap the Tile paired with your item to trigger a loud tune and locate it more easily.

(Perfect for the next time you’re running late for work and just can’t find your car keys.)

If you’ve subscribed to Tile Premium, you can access a 30-day Location History feature to pick up the last place you left your item. Which is useful when you consider how dogs tend to wander – or run away.

What’s the range of Tile for dogs?

In a nutshell: it depends on the version you’re using – plus factors like the size of your dog and how far (and often) they like to be on the move. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different Tile trackers:

VersionRangeWorks best for
Tile Mate200 feet/~61 mSmall dogs and cats
Tile Pro400 feet/~122 mMost dogs – not advised for cats
Tile Slim250 feet/~76 mPersonal items – not advised for dogs
Tile Sticker250 feet/~76 mIndoor pets (like tortoises) – not advised for dogs

Besides these, the Tile Network is a global network to help you track your items over longer distances. So the next time your dog gets a case of wanderlust past 400 feet (122 meters), here’s what you can do:

  • Head to your Tile app and select “Notify When Found.”
  • Now, if another Tile user with the mobile app ends up near your missing dog, you’ll immediately get notified on your phone about its most recent location. If you’ve added your contact information, they can reach you by scanning the QR code on your lost Tile.

Is Tile a GPS tracker?

No. Tile is a Bluetooth-powered tracking device. It doesn’t offer the same GPS tracking functions as dedicated pet trackers like Tractive. Similar to the Apple AirTag, it only notifies you if your dog is nearby if they’re within a certain range. (Aka, not too far away from your phone.)

So if your dog runs off and leaves Bluetooth range, your Tile tag won’t be much help finding them.

GPS trackers like Tractive, on the other hand, have you covered when it comes to actively finding and tracking your dog. For starters, the Tractive GPS offers an unlimited range – and real-time updates every 2-3 seconds. So you can track your dog no matter where you are on the planet and with just a glance at your device. Even in areas with poor network, you can use its Bluetooth functions to locate your dog more accurately.

GPS vs Bluetooth tracker range comparison infographic

So can Tile be used as a GPS tracker? No. It lacks GPS functions and location services. Instead it’s powered entirely by Bluetooth tracking, which offers a much more limited range. However, once your Tile connects with your device’s Bluetooth, it uses your device’s GPS location services to update your app. So Tile itself doesn’t have any GPS location functions nor services.

Does Tile track in real time?

No. Tile tags are not designed to track real-time movement. So they’re better for finding an item within your house or a small range. Since it’s powered by Bluetooth, you’ll have trouble finding your dog if they venture off at a long distance.

Your Tile app will only update your dog’s last known location if they return to Bluetooth range. Or if a fellow Tile user passes within Bluetooth range of your dog’s Tile tag – which updates your app through the Tile Network.

Tractive GPS live tracking

The Tractive GPS, on the other hand, includes LIVE tracking – which has even saved the lives of dogs who’ve wandered off too far. Like the story of Happy, an off-leash Golden Retriever who ran off and got completely lost on his first hike in the Alps.

In his mum, Francesca’s words:

These mountains are known for the intricate paths and the beautiful flora. I was there with Mac, Happy and my family when Happy got lost.

Whether this happened because he went after a deer, or not, this is still not clear to me. What was clear is that he was gone.

Then I remembered that Happy had the GPS tracker clipped on. I immediately switched on the LIVE Tracking mode and started breathing more easily the closer I got to his position. I could follow his path, live, directly on my phone and the position was so accurate that… finally there Happy was, sipping water from the source on a mountain’s edge.

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Tile vs AirTag for dogs

You might’ve considered using an Apple AirTag for your dog, but it comes with similar limitations to Tile. In a nutshell: neither Tile nor AirTags were built to track or find dogs. They’re both Bluetooth-powered tracking devices that are built for finding physical objects. Not living, moving animals.

In fact, the Apple AirTag is even more limited in terms of range – only tracking within 30-80 feet (or 10-25 meters.) And much like Tile, AirTags’ tracking range depends on the presence of other Apple devices nearby. Which makes both poor options for tracking your dog in real-time.

Upsides to using a Tile tag for your dog

Here are some of the pros of using Tile as a pet tracker:

  • Affordability: A Tile Pro clocks in at $34.99 – which can be a pretty budget-friendly option. You can even purchase a Tile Combo pack to track multiple items for slightly less than $100.
  • Battery life: Tile Mate, Tile Sticker and Tile Slim come with built-in 3 year batteries. Tile Pro comes with replaceable batteries that last up to a year.
  • Ease of use: Tile tags are lightweight, portable, and easy to attach to a dog collar or harness. 
A woman in a forest with her dog.

Downsides to using a Tile tag for your dog

Like we’ve covered, Tile is better for tracking your personal items – not your dog. Here are a couple of its downsides.

You’re limited to fellow Tile users

If your dog wanders off beyond 400 feet (122 meters), you’ll only get notified by the Tile Network if another Tile user picks up on your missing dog’s location. (Or if your dog wanders back into Bluetooth range.) Because of this, Tile might not the best option if you’re out hiking with your dog or live in a remote area.

You’re stuck to a limited range

With a Tile tag, you’re limited to a tracking range of 200-400 feet (61-122 meters) – again, not a great choice for active outdoor pets. If you and your dog both like to be on the move, you should consider a pet tracker with an unlimited range.

You’re missing out on other dog tracking features

Even with its innovative sound-based location features, Tile falls short of other pet trackers. With Tractive, you can locate your dog with both light and sound functions and set up a virtual fence. This means you define a “safe zone” for your dog – and immediately get an alert if they venture off beyond it.

Your dog might choke on their Tile tag

Got a medium to large-sized dog? They might accidentally swallow their Tile tag, given its small size. You can protect against this by securing the tracker tightly against your dog’s collar. This both prevents it from hanging and also keeps other dogs from chewing it off.

Is Tile the best choice to find your dog?

No. Tile tags are built for tracking (mostly) inanimate objects – like your phone, wallet, or keys. Not dogs who like their outdoors time. Because of this, Tile trackers might not work everywhere you and your buddy go. Plus, they’re missing a ton of pet-friendly features. When it comes to your furry friend, the best choice is always a dedicated dog GPS tracker.

You could give the Tile tag a shot if:

  • You’re on a budget. Ranging from $14.99-$99.99, Tile offers products including labels, stickers, and trackers. Tile stickers are especially popular for indoor pets like tortoises.
  • Your dog’s a home-buddy. With a Tile Pro, you can keep track of your dog up to the size of a neighborhood block. Which works nicely for pets who don’t like straying (too) far from home and are on the smaller, less active side.
  • Your friends and family are active Tile users themselves. Stay connected on the Tile Network and help each other keep track of your items and pets.

When a dog GPS tracker makes more sense

On the other hand, you’ll benefit from a dedicated dog tracker if:

You want complete peace of mind as a pet parent

Besides real-time tracking, GPS trackers like Tractive are built to ensure your peace of mind – no matter where your dog’s wandered off. And in many cases, it’s even saved lives.

Take, for example, Imogen, a high-energy Borzoi who ran off from home into a lake nearby – and crashed through the ice. Luckily, her mum quickly picked up on her location using Tractive’s Location History. Thus saving her dog from freezing and drowning.

Your dog’s an active, outdoorsy sort

Some breeds might even be more likely to bolt at new sights, sounds, or smells – like Marnie, the Irish setter rescue. Who was found safe and sound near a lake while her parents were on vacation – with a little help from the Tractive GPS.

You’re keeping an eye out for your dog’s health and wellbeing

Many pet tracking devices now come with activity monitors, much like Fitbits. Tractive goes further – its Wellness Monitoring features track both your dog’s sleep and activity levels to give you an individualized picture of their health. So you can track dips and changes in how active your dog is – and catch on early if something’s wrong.

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Tile vs GPS trackers: Figuring out which one works for you

Here’s a quick summary of Tile as compared to the Tractive GPS – so you can tell the differences at a glance:

tile bluetooth tracker
Tile Bluetooth Tracker
tractive gps tracker white
Tractive GPS
PurposeTracking items: keys, bags, etc.Tracking runaway dogs & cats
Price$24.99 on average$49.99 + subscription fees
Subscription PlanNot necessary, but you need a Premium subscription to unlock all featuresUnlimited range + coverage costs all covered from as little as $4.99 / month
Range400 feet/121 metersUnlimited
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

Losing your furry friend is never a fun experience  – you always want to make sure you can find them any time. So if you’re ready for complete peace of mind as a pet parent, invest in a dedicated dog tracker like the Tractive GPS.

Curious how Tractive works but strapped for time? Here’s everything you need to know about our GPS tracker – in just two minutes: