Tracking your dog’s location and training them remotely requires reliable technology. That’s why dog owners and hunters often compare Dogtra vs Garmin GPS systems to decide which is better.
This in-depth guide examines all aspects of Dogtra and Garmin dog trackers—from features and accuracy to range, battery life and price. Read on for a detailed comparison of these top brands to determine the right GPS tracker for your dog.
Overview of Dogtra and Garmin Dog Trackers
Dogtra and Garmin both make high-quality GPS dog trackers and training collars to monitor your pup’s location and reinforce commands.
How Dogtra Works
Dogtra trackers use a smartphone app connected to a handheld device to track dogs via GPS and deliver stimulation for training.
Dogtra’s Pathfinder systems track dogs up to 9 miles away and include 100 customizable stimulation levels. The app provides mapping, tracking and training capabilities.Shop Dogtra on Amazon
How Garmin Works
Garmin Alpha dog trackers use a dedicated handheld device to connect to collars. The handheld shows maps, tracks multiple dogs, and controls training stimulations.
Garmin claims up to 9 mile range. Alpha trackers monitor up to 20 dogs at once and provide tone, vibration, and static stim training options.Shop Garmin on Amazon
Now let’s compare these popular systems in depth across key factors:
Dogtra vs Garmin Feature Comparison
Both Dogtra and Garmin use advanced GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking to pinpoint your dog’s location. This allows accurate tracking through dense brush and trees.
The Garmin Alpha touchscreen handheld shows your dog’s position on downloaded topographic or BirdsEye satellite maps. You can track up to 20 dogs simultaneously with the Alpha.
With Dogtra, you view your dog’s location on smartphone maps via the Pathfinder app. Most smartphone map apps now incorporate satellite imagery for precise tracking.
Dogtra and Garmin dog trackers both offer nick, constant and tone training stimulations. This allows reinforcing commands and establishing boundaries.
However, the Garmin Alpha also includes a vibration setting that Dogtra lacks. Having tone plus vibration provides more flexibility when training dogs that respond better to different stimuli.
The level of stimulation matters when training dogs. Dogtra has a wider range of customizable settings.
- Dogtra offers 127 stimulation levels
- Garmin Alpha provides 18 intensities, but only 6 preset levels
So Dogtra lets you more finely tune the exact stimulation strength that influences your dog’s behavior.
A major difference is Garmin uses a dedicated handheld device, while Dogtra utilizes a smartphone app.
The Garmin Alpha handheld connects directly to the collars for tracking and training up to 20 dogs from one device. No smartphone required.
With Dogtra, you must pair a smartphone via Bluetooth to the Pathfinder handheld controller. This relies on your phone’s battery life, connectivity and durability.
So Garmin’s standalone handheld avoids potential limitations when relying on a smartphone in the field. But the Dogtra system costs less since you don’t need the extra Garmin hardware.
Both the Dogtra Pathfinder and Garmin Alpha handhelds and collars have rechargeable lithium ion batteries. However, the dedicated Garmin handheld lasts longer.
- Garmin Alpha handheld: up to 20 hours
- Dogtra Pathfinder handheld: up to 12 hours
- Garmin Alpha collar: up to 40 hours
- Dogtra Pathfinder collar: up to 20 hours
So the Garmin Alpha offers significantly longer battery life, especially for the collars that attach to your dogs. This extended operation can make a difference on multi-day hunting trips.
Dogtra and Garmin engineers recognize these devices get used outdoors in demanding conditions. Both trackers feature waterproof, rugged designs.
The Dogtra Pathfinder controller and collar housings have an IPX9K waterproof rating. Garmin Alpha devices meet the IPX7 waterproof standard.
In practice, both handle splashing, rain and submersion just fine for real world use. See our tips on using AirTags outdoors and getting them wet.
Pinpoint GPS accuracy helps you precisely track your dog’s movement. Both systems tout enhanced GPS reception through additional satellite networks:
- Garmin Alpha uses GPS + GLONASS for positioning
- Dogtra Pathfinder incorporates GPS + Galileo networks
This boosts positioning accuracy, especially when one satellite network has obstructions. Independent tests confirm Garmin and Dogtra achieve excellent, very similar GPS tracking accuracy.
The effective range determines how far you can roam while maintaining the collar connection. Max advertised ranges are:
- Garmin Alpha 100: 9 miles
- Dogtra Pathfinder: 9 miles
But actual range depends on terrain. Nearby hills and trees can reduce the functional distance. Conservative estimates peg real-world range around 5 miles for each when hunting or training in the field. Still sufficient for many conditions.
Extended-range models like the Garmin Alpha TT 15 can reach up to 15 miles, at a higher cost. For most purposes though, the standard models offer adequate range.
Virtual boundaries are handy for training dogs to avoid dangers like roads. Both Garmin and Dogtra systems allow setting custom geofence limits that trigger warnings on the handheld when crossed.
Dogtra’s Pathfinder app makes it simple to draw geofence boundaries directly on the smartphone map.
Garmin Alpha handhelds can also mark geographical limits and set alerts. This reinforces proper roaming areas.
Tracking Dogs Simultaneously
An advantage of the Garmin Alpha is its ability to track up to 20 dogs at once, great for hunting packs. The handheld shows all dogs’ positions and distances relative to you.
The Dogtra Pathfinder tracks a maximum of 3 dogs simultaneously. For single dog owners, this isn’t an issue. But Garmin’s capacity to monitor more dogs is better suited for larger hunting parties.
Let’s say you want to add tracking collars for additional dogs. Which system costs less to expand?
- Dogtra Pathfinder extra collar: $260
- Garmin Alpha extra collar: $300
The Dogtra Pathfinder offers a lower price point to add more dog tracking functionality.
Key Differences Between Dogtra vs Garmin
To summarize the detailed features comparison:
- Garmin Alpha handheld battery lasts longer (20 hours vs 12 hours)
- Garmin tracks up to 20 dogs simultaneously vs 3 for Dogtra
- Garmin Alpha adds vibration for training (nick, constant, tone, vibrate)
- Dogtra provides 127 stimulation levels vs 18 for Garmin
- Garmin uses proprietary handheld; Dogtra utilizes smartphone app
- Dogtra collars and add-ons cost less than Garmin
So in essence:
- Garmin has greater battery life, dog capacity, training flexibility
- Dogtra offers more customization of stimulation intensity and costs less
Dogtra Pathfinder Pros and Cons
Dogtra Pathfinder Pros
- Lower cost system
- 100+ adjustable stimulation levels
- Easy to expand number of collars
- Intuitive smartphone app interface
- IPX9K waterproof rating
Dogtra Pathfinder Cons
- Shorter handheld and collar battery life
- Maximum 3 dogs tracked simultaneously
- Relies on connecting to smartphone
- No vibration stimulation option
Garmin Alpha Pros and Cons
Garmin Alpha Pros
- Rugged proprietary handheld, no smartphone needed
- Up to 20 dog capacity
- Vibration plus tone, nick and constant stim
- Extended battery life handheld and collar
- Pre-loaded TOPO maps. Check out our comparison of AirTag vs GPS trackers for other navigation options.
Garmin Alpha Cons
- Higher cost for additional collars
- Only 18 stimulation levels
- No smartphone integration or apps
- IPX7 water resistance rating
Dogtra vs Garmin: Which is Better for You?
Now that you see the detailed feature comparison between Dogtra and Garmin dog GPS trackers, how do you determine which is better for your needs?
Here are some key questions to help decide:
- Will you track multiple dogs (hunting pack) or just one or two dogs?
- Is smartphone connectivity or battery life more important?
- Do you require high customization of stimulation levels?
- Does your training style rely on vibration?
- Is staying under budget a concern?
Think through your specific circumstances. Characteristics like number of dogs, training approach, smartphone reliance, and budget can point you towards the ideal system.
- Smaller budgets favor Dogtra. For single dog owners on a budget, Dogtra makes sense. Learn more about the best GPS collars for hunting dogs.
- Vibration training requires Garmin
- Tracking large hunting packs calls for Garmin’s 20 dog capacity
- Custom stimulation levels benefit Dogtra users
No perfect choice exists—make the tradeoffs that align with your priorities. And either Dogtra or Garmin will represent a major upgrade over basic training collars.
Key Takeaways: Dogtra vs Garmin
- Both offer excellent GPS tracking and training capabilities
- Garmin Alpha optimized for larger hunting packs with dedicated handheld
- Dogtra Pathfinder delivers customizable stimulation and costs less
- Consider your budget, dogs to track, training approach, app needs
- For 1-2 dogs and tight budget, Dogtra makes sense
- Garmin better for large packs and extended trips off-grid
- Select the system with features most aligned to your needs
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Garmin or Dogtra more accurate?
Independent testing shows Garmin and Dogtra offer very similar excellent GPS and GLONASS tracking accuracy. Both pinpoint dog locations reliably. Smartphone maps may offer enhanced visibility with Dogtra.
Can Dogtra track unlimited dogs?
No, the Dogtra Pathfinder can track a maximum of 3 dogs simultaneously. Garmin Alpha can track and train up to 20 dogs at once, better for large hunting packs.
Is Dogtra app free?
Yes, the Dogtra Pathfinder app connects to your smartphone for free. You only pay for the Pathfinder controller and collars. See our review of GPS pet trackers without monthly fees.
Does Garmin Alpha require paid subscription?
No, the Garmin Alpha handheld does not require any paid ongoing subscription for basic functionality. However, Garmin’s inReach subscription does provide additional capabilities at a monthly cost.
Can Dogtra be used without phone?
No, the Dogtra Pathfinder requires connecting to a smartphone app via the handheld Bluetooth controller. It cannot operate without the app on your phone.
Garmin Alpha provides a standalone handheld device not dependent on a smartphone.
Do Dogtra collars work without app?
No, Dogtra Pathfinder collars need to connect to the smartphone app via the handheld controller. Without the app, you lose all mapping, tracking and training capabilities. The collars don’t work independently.
Are Dogtra collars interchangeable?
Yes, the Dogtra Pathfinder collars are interchangeable. You can use any collar with the handheld controller by pairing them. Additional collars purchased for the same Pathfinder system will work interchangeably.
How long do Dogtra Pathfinder collars last?
Dogtra Pathfinder collars last around 20-40 hours per charge depending on stimulation usage. Low temperatures further reduce battery life. The collars recharge in 2-3 hours via the included USB charging cable.