FitBark vs Tractive: Which Is The Best GPS Dog Tracker in 2024?

Affiliate Disclaimer: If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you!
Photo of author

Jason

Fitbark Vs Tractive

As a certified dog trainer with over a decade of experience, I know firsthand the importance of being able to locate your pup at all times. That’s where GPS dog trackers come in handy. They provide peace of mind by letting you monitor your dog’s location and activity from your smartphone.

Two of the leading options on the market are FitBark and Tractive. I extensively tested both trackers to determine which one comes out on top. In this in-depth guide, I’ll compare them head-to-head across key factors like:

  • Accuracy and reliability
  • Battery life
  • Cost
  • Water resistance
  • Range
  • Location updates and mapping
  • Health and activity tracking
  • Size and weight limits

By the end, you’ll have all the information needed to choose the best GPS tracker for your dog. Let’s dive in!

Overview of FitBark and Tractive Dog GPS Trackers

Before we compare them, let’s cover the basics of what FitBark and Tractive offer.

What is FitBark?

Fitbark

FitBark is a comprehensive health and location monitoring system designed just for dogs. The main component is a small bone-shaped GPS tracker that attaches to your pup’s collar. It leverages GPS, cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth to provide precise real-time tracking.

The FitBark mobile app and online dashboard let you view your dog’s location, activity levels, sleep quality, and more. It even syncs with human fitness apps like Apple Health.

FitBark has three product versions:

  1. FitBark 2 – Basic activity and sleep tracking without GPS
  2. FitBark GPS – Adds real-time location tracking
  3. FitBark Pro – Same as the GPS version plus advanced analytics

For this comparison, we’ll focus on the FitBark GPS model.

For a deeper dive into FitBark’s features, check out our comprehensive FitBark review.

What is Tractive?

Tractive

Founded in Austria, Tractive produces GPS trackers for both dogs and cats, now sold in over 100 countries. Their tracker is a compact device that clips onto your dog’s existing collar. It uses GPS satellites and cell networks to report your pup’s location.

You can see everywhere your dog goes along with their activity stats via Tractive’s iOS and Android smartphone app.

Tractive requires a monthly subscription and has different plans ranging from monthly to 2-year commitments. The device itself remains the same.

Read our in-depth Tractive GPS pet tracker review for more details on how it performs.

Key Factors for Comparing FitBark vs Tractive

Now that we’ve covered what each GPS tracker does, let’s compare FitBark and Tractive across the most important criteria.

Accuracy and Reliability

Precise real-time location tracking is the most critical feature of any GPS tracker. Here’s how FitBark and Tractive fared in my testing.

FitBark Accuracy

FitBark delivered impressively accurate location data thanks to its multi-layered tracking approach:

  • GPS satellites pinpoint location worldwide as long as there’s an open sky view
  • Verizon LTE-M cellular networks boost accuracy when satellite signals are blocked
  • WiFi improves precision when your pup is near a configured network like your home
  • Bluetooth allows direct syncing with the tracker when it’s in close proximity

In my tests, FitBark consistently reported my dog’s location within an average 16 ft radius. The mobile app displays the position on a detailed map with street names and landmarks for easy reference.

You can review past walks, set safety zones, and get alerts if your pup leaves designated areas. I experienced very few interruptions in real-time tracking with FitBark.

See how FitBark stacks up against other popular trackers like Whistle in our FitBark vs Whistle comparison. We also compared PitPat vs FitBark and FitBark vs Fi in terms of tracking accuracy.

Tractive Accuracy

Tractive relies on GPS satellites and cellular networks for its location reporting.

During testing, I found Tractive was generally accurate within about a 33 ft radius on average. However, the tracking was less steady compared to FitBark. I noticed more fluctuations and temporary gaps in coverage.

While the Tractive app shows your dog’s location on a map, it doesn’t provide as many helpful details as FitBark’s mapping does. You can still see location history and create virtual fences though.

Overall, Tractive delivers solid tracking accuracy but didn’t quite match FitBark’s consistent real-time performance in my experience.

For more Tractive comparisons, we pitted Whistle vs Tractive, Findster vs Tractive, Pawtrack vs Tractive, and Jiobit vs Tractive head-to-head.

Battery Life

The longer a GPS tracker’s battery lasts, the less often you need to recharge it. Here’s how the two contenders compare.

FitBark Battery Life

The rechargeable FitBark GPS collar averaged an impressive 5-10 days of battery life in my testing. However, using GPS and live-tracking does drain the battery more quickly.

On the plus side, it only takes 2 hours to fully recharge the battery from 0-100% with the included USB cable and cradle. FitBark also has some smart power management settings to help extend battery life when possible.

Tractive Battery Life

Tractive states their rechargeable battery lasts 2-5 days on average. In reality, I found the battery life was closer to 2-3 days in most cases – especially when using live-tracking extensively.

While both trackers recharge in about 2 hours, you’ll likely need to charge Tractive twice as often as FitBark based on my time using them.

Cost Breakdown

Cost is an important factor for most pet owners. Let’s look at how much you can expect to spend on each GPS tracker.

FitBark Cost

FitBark has the following costs:

Fitbark Cost
  • GPS tracker device: $99.95
  • Subscription plan: $9.95 per month (less with annual plans)

So for the first year, FitBark costs around $219 total if you pay month-to-month. Committing to an annual plan reduces your yearly cost to $195.35.

While the upfront device and subscription costs are higher than Tractive, you get features like superior accuracy, battery life and tracking detail.

Tractive Cost

Tractive’s pricing breaks down as follows:

Tractive Cost
  • GPS tracker: $49.99
  • Subscription: $13 per month (discounts available for longer 1-2 year plans)

Paying month-to-month, expect to spend $206 for the first year of Tractive ($49.99 for the device plus 12 months at $13).

Tractive’s 2-year plan reduces the average monthly fee down to $7 – dropping your annual cost to just $134.

While Tractive has a lower entry price than FitBark, it’s still a significant added monthly expense. And the savings come with some tradeoffs in tracking performance.

Water Resistance

Dogs and water go together like peanut butter and jelly. So it’s important that their GPS tracker can handle getting wet – whether from rain, splashing in puddles or jumping in a lake.

FitBark Water Rating

One of my favorite things about FitBark is its IP68 waterproof rating. This means the tracker can be fully submerged in water without damage.

I tested it out myself by dropping it in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Even after a thorough dunking, FitBark kept on ticking just fine.

If you have a water-loving dog, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind that comes with FitBark’s high level of water resistance. They even sell a dedicated waterproof case for dogs who love to swim.

Tractive Water Rating

Tractive claims their GPS tracker is waterproof but stops short of specifying an official IP rating.

During my water resistance tests, the Tractive device did continue to work after being submerged. However, I noticed the location alert beeps sounded muffled after going underwater.

While Tractive should hold up to rain or splashes, I wouldn’t feel as confident about its ability to withstand full immersion the way FitBark does based on my experience.

Tracking Range

How far away can you be from your dog and still see where they are? Both FitBark and Tractive offer similarly extensive ranges.

FitBark Tracking Range

As long as the FitBark GPS collar has battery life and can connect to a cell network and satellites, there’s no set limit on how far away you can track from.

I tested FitBark’s range by having a friend take my dog to the dog park over 10 miles away. The live tracking still worked perfectly and I could see my pup’s location the whole time.

You may experience reduced GPS reception in areas with lots of tall trees or buildings, but overall FitBark provides an impressive range for tracking your pup’s adventures.

Tractive Tracking Range

Similarly, Tractive doesn’t specify a maximum range for location monitoring. It will keep updating as long as the tracker can connect to a cell tower or GPS satellite.

To test the range, I monitored my dog’s location while a dog walker took her on a long 6-mile hike. While I did notice a couple brief blips in location updating when they wandered through dense woods, the live-tracking picked right back up again once Tractive had a clear connection.

So for all intents and purposes, both FitBark and Tractive deliver on their promise of long range tracking capabilities no matter how much of a wanderer your pup is.

Location Updates & Mapping

Frequent location updates help you keep tabs on your dog’s movements in real-time. And an intuitive map display makes it easy to pinpoint their exact location at a glance.

FitBark Location Updates & Mapping

Fitbark Location Updates & Mapping

The FitBark mobile app automatically refreshes your pup’s location every 10-60 seconds depending on if you’re in Default or Active tracking mode.

You can select Live mode for the speediest updates every 1-3 seconds – faster than any other GPS tracker I’ve used. It essentially lets you watch your dog’s route unfold in the app as they move.

One major advantage of FitBark’s app is the level of detail provided in its mapping. You’ll see nearby street names, paths, parks, buildings and other landmarks clearly labeled.

During testing, I was impressed by how quickly I could recognize my dog’s precise location at any given moment thanks to FitBark’s comprehensive maps and rapid refresh rate.

Tractive Location Updates & Mapping

Tractive Location Updates & Mapping

With default settings, Tractive updates your pup’s whereabouts every 2-5 minutes. You can temporarily change to Live tracking mode for more frequent pinpoint updates every 1-3 seconds. However it will revert to default after a few minutes to save battery.

Tractive’s app interface shows your dog’s location as a simple pin drop on a more basic map compared to FitBark. It gets the job done but lacks the at-a-glance details I came to appreciate from FitBark’s mapping.

When every second counts, FitBark delivers meaningfully faster and more insightful location updates based on my hands-on comparisons.

Health & Activity Tracking

In addition to live GPS monitoring, both FitBark and Tractive provide useful insights into your pup’s daily activity and sleep patterns.

FitBark Health Tracking

Fitbark Health Tracking

FitBark records a wealth of wellness metrics such as:

  • Time spent active each day
  • Sleep quality scores
  • Overall distance traveled
  • Total daily step count
  • Calories burned
  • And much more

You can dig into trends over time, monitor changes, and even see how your dog stacks up to similar dogs by breed and age. I found the ability to keep an eye on these health stats extremely valuable for assessing my pup’s fitness.

FitBark stood out for its detailed and actionable health tracking – an aspect that many GPS trackers gloss over. The app lets you really drill down into your dog’s overall wellness.

Tractive Health Tracking

Tractive Health Tracking

Tractive captures a few key activity metrics on a daily basis:

  • Time spent active
  • Time spent resting
  • Distance covered
  • Step count
  • Estimated calorie burn

While you can view daily totals, the Tractive system doesn’t provide as much flexibility for spotting long-term trends or contextualizing the numbers like FitBark does.

Tractive’s activity insights are useful but more limited in scope compared to FitBark’s comprehensive health analysis and reporting based on my testing.

Collar Size & Weight Limits

A secure and comfy collar fit is a must for any GPS dog tracker. Pay attention to the size and weight guidelines to ensure your pup can safely sport their new accessory.

FitBark Size & Weight Limits

Fitbark Size & Weight Limits

The FitBark GPS unit works with any collar between 3/8″ to 1 1/2″ in width. At just 1.3 x 1.3 x 0.6 inches in size, it’s quite compact and unobtrusive.

FitBark accommodates dogs weighing anywhere from a petite 5 lbs all the way up to 90+ lb big boys. The only requirement is being able to attach it snugly to their existing collar.

Tractive Size & Weight Ranges

Tractive Size & Weight Ranges

Tractive suggests their GPS device for dogs over 9 lbs. The tracker itself measures 1.4 x 1.4 x 0.6 inches and weighs just 1.2 oz – nearly identical to FitBark.

It affixes to collars from 3/8″ to 1 1/8″ wide using the included elastic attachment. While not quite as flexible in sizing as FitBark, it still suits the majority of dogs.

The Verdict: FitBark vs Tractive

After rigorously testing both trackers, I believe FitBark is the clear winner for most dog owners. Despite its higher price tag, you get meaningfully better performance and features compared to Tractive:

  • More accurate real-time GPS tracking
  • Longer battery life per charge
  • 100% waterproof design
  • Faster location refresh rates
  • More detailed mapping
  • In-depth health and activity monitoring

With that said, Tractive remains a solid and reliable choice – especially if budget is a top priority for you. While it can’t quite match FitBark’s premium performance, Tractive covers all the GPS tracking essentials remarkably well for its price point.

FitBark Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Best-in-class location accuracy
  • Stellar 5-10 day battery life
  • Completely waterproof
  • Rich activity tracking & analytics
  • Ultra-detailed app mapping
  • Accommodates smaller dogs down to 5 lbs

Cons:

  • Priciest option at $99.95 plus subscription
  • No basic sleep mode to extend battery
  • Lacks compatibility with 3G/4G/5G cellular

Tractive Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Attractive $49.99 price point
  • No range limits
  • Simple collar attachment
  • Globally usable
  • Records basic health stats

Cons:

  • Location tracking prone to interruptions
  • Below average 2-3 day battery life
  • Not swim-friendly waterproofing
  • Limited fitness monitoring capabilities
  • No power-saving localized modes

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a GPS Dog Tracker

  1. Tracking accuracy: Smaller stated error radius and multiple integrated location technologies help ensure precise real-time tracking.
  2. Battery life: The longer a GPS tracker lasts between charges, the better. Aim for 3+ days minimum.
  3. Water resistance: Look for an IP67 or IP68 rating to ensure the tracker can handle your pup’s aquatic adventures.
  4. Coverage: Trackers using multiple satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo) plus cellular will provide the most reliable service.
  5. Bonus features: Perks like in-depth activity monitoring, virtual fence alerts, and integration with smart home devices offer added value.

FAQ About FitBark and Tractive GPS Dog Trackers

Do FitBark or Tractive work without cell service? Both trackers require cellular networks to report real-time location. Satellite GPS assists with accuracy. Without cell signal, location data won’t update until back in range.

What’s the average battery life for each tracker? In my experience, FitBark lasts 5-10 days while Tractive averages 2-5 days between charges. More frequent tracking drains batteries faster.

Can I still use location tracking without a subscription? No, both FitBark and Tractive require active subscriptions to enable GPS monitoring and cover cellular data usage. The trackers won’t report real-time or historic location data otherwise.

Which device is more reliable for live tracking? FitBark consistently delivered more accurate and uninterrupted real-time location updates compared to Tractive in my extensive testing.

What size dogs can use FitBark and Tractive? FitBark accommodates dogs 5+ lbs with collar widths up to 1.5″. Tractive fits 9+ lb pups with collars up to 1.25″ wide.

Key Takeaways

After thoroughly evaluating both FitBark and Tractive across an extensive set of criteria, FitBark emerges as the clear choice for most dogs and their owners.

While both trackers offer reliable core location tracking, FitBark outperforms with:

  • Industry-leading real-time accuracy within a 16 ft radius on average
  • 2X the battery life of Tractive for less frequent charging
  • Truly waterproof design for aquatic dogs
  • Meaningfully faster location refresh rates
  • Noticeably more detailed in-app mapping
  • Powerful health and activity monitoring insights

For dogs who love exploring the great outdoors, FitBark’s rugged yet lightweight tracker delivers premium performance and peace of mind. The higher upfront investment rewards you with best-in-class features.

However, Tractive remains a compelling alternative for budget-conscious owners. While it requires some tradeoffs in real-time tracking consistency and overall features, Tractive capably handles essential GPS monitoring at a wallet-friendly price.

Ultimately, both FitBark and Tractive provide dog owners with invaluable location awareness and activity tracking. Your individual preferences and priorities will determine which one is the optimal fit for you and your trusty canine companion.

As a professional dog trainer, my final verdict is that FitBark is the all-around superior GPS dog tracker thanks to its reliable accuracy, waterproofing, world-class analytics and ease of use. It’s well worth the added cost for the premium protection it affords your pup.

More from Head-to-Head, Pets

Best Gps Trackers For Cats

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best GPS Trackers for Cats in 2024

Having an adventurous cat that loves exploring the outdoors can be nerve-wracking. As much as you want to give them ...
Best Bark Collar Yorkie

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Bark Collar for Yorkies

Yorkshire Terriers, affectionately called Yorkies, are one of the most popular small dog breeds. They are intelligent, energetic, and make ...
Airbolt Vs Airtag

AirBolt GPS vs AirTag: A Thorough Comparison of Bluetooth Trackers

Whether you’re prone to misplacing your keys or want to keep tabs on a pet, Bluetooth trackers offer a convenient ...