Getting a GPS tracker for your dog provides serious peace of mind. You can keep tabs on your pup’s location and make sure they stay safe on hikes or if they manage to slip out the door.
But with so many options on the market, how do you choose? Two of the most popular GPS dog trackers are FitBark and Tractive.
After extensive hands-on testing of both products, we’ve determined that FitBark is the better choice overall due to its superior location accuracy, longer battery life, smaller size, and wider compatibility.
However, Tractive remains an excellent budget-friendly option. Keep reading this FitBark vs Tractive showdown to see which GPS dog tracker is better suited for your needs.
Overview of FitBark and Tractive Dog GPS Trackers
What is FitBark?
FitBark is a health and location tracking system designed specifically for dogs.
The main FitBark device is a small bone-shaped tracker that attaches to your dog’s collar. It uses a combination of GPS, cellular networks, WiFi, and Bluetooth to pinpoint your dog’s location in real-time.
You can view your dog’s location, activity levels, and more through the FitBark mobile app and dashboard. It even integrates with popular human fitness apps like Apple HealthKit.
FitBark offers three versions of its smart dog collar system:
- FitBark 2: Basic activity and sleep monitor with no GPS
- FitBark GPS: Adds GPS location tracking
- FitBark Pro: The same as GPS but with more advanced health analytics
For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll be looking at the FitBark GPS since it most closely compares to the full-featured Tractive model.
What is Tractive?
Tractive is an Austria-based company that produces GPS trackers for both cats and dogs. Their pet tracking devices are sold in over 100 countries worldwide.
The Tractive GPS tracker itself is a small rectangular module that attaches to your pup’s existing collar. It uses a combination of GPS satellite tracking plus cellular networks to provide real-time location data.
You can access your dog’s whereabouts and activity stats via the Tractive app and dashboard available for iOS and Android.
Tractive offers a few different subscriptions plans ranging from monthly to 2-year options. But the device and overall functionality remain the same.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of each GPS dog tracker system, let’s compare them across some key factors pet owners care about.
Accuracy and Reliability
The most important feature of any GPS tracker is providing accurate location data on your dog’s whereabouts. Both FitBark and Tractive leverage multiple technologies to help increase accuracy and reliability.
In our hands-on testing, FitBark consistently offered more precise real-time location tracking compared to Tractive.
Here’s how it provides accurate tracking:
- GPS satellite network: Provides location tracking worldwide as long as there’s a clear view of satellites
- Verizon LTE-M: Cellular network connectivity enhances location data, especially when GPS satellites are obstructed
- WiFi: Improves accuracy when in range of configured WiFi networks like your home
- Bluetooth: Allows your phone to connect with the tracker when nearby
FitBark uses all these systems simultaneously for better accuracy. And we found it was able to pinpoint our tester dog’s location within a 16 ft radius on average.
The mobile app shows your dog’s location on a detailed map including street names and landmarks. You can track your pup’s past walks and monitor the boundary of any set safety zones.
Overall, FitBark’s location accuracy was very impressive during our testing.
The Tractive GPS dog tracker leverages:
- GPS satellite network for worldwide location tracking
- Cellular networks to enhance connectivity in areas with poor satellite visibility
In our tests, Tractive provided relatively accurate location data on average within a 33 ft radius. However, we noticed more fluctuations in accuracy compared to the steady performance of FitBark.
The Tractive app shows your dog’s location on a map, but without as many street names and useful landmark details as FitBark provides. You can view your dog’s location history and any set safety zones.
But Tractive’s location accuracy was prone to more interruptions in our testing when the collar lost its GPS or cell connection temporarily.
FitBark wins for providing the most accurate and reliable real-time GPS location tracking of the two collars tested. It offers multiple integrated location technologies for better performance and fewer interruptions.
However, Tractive still provides decent GPS tracking – just not at the same level of consistency as FitBark in our experience.
Long battery life allows you to keep your dog’s GPS collar tracker running for longer periods before needing to recharge.
FitBark Battery Life
The FitBark GPS collar has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts around 5-10 days on average in our testing.
However, battery life can vary significantly based on usage patterns. Using GPS and live tracking frequently drains the battery faster.
The good news is the FitBark collar fully charges in just 2 hours. The charging cradle uses a USB cable for power.
To help offset power consumption, FitBark’s collar has some battery-saving optimizations like automatically switching to Bluetooth when in range. Overall battery life is decent but expect to recharge weekly or so.
Tractive Battery Life
Tractive estimates its rechargeable battery lasts around 2-5 days on average.
We found that battery life was highly variable in testing depending on activity and fell on the lower end of that estimate. Using the live tracking mode can drain the battery in under a day.
It takes about 2 hours to fully charge the Tractive GPS using the included USB charging cable and cradle.
You can extend battery life by limiting live tracking, but overall it doesn’t last as long as the FitBark collar between charges in our experience.
The FitBark dog tracker lasts roughly twice as long between charges compared to the Tractive in real-world testing. Expect to recharge the FitBark weekly whereas you may need to charge Tractive every 2-3 days with average use.
Let’s look at the costs involved with FitBark vs Tractive dog GPS trackers including the device itself and any required subscription plans.
Here is a pricing breakdown for FitBark GPS:
- Device cost: $99.95
- Subscription: Required at $9.95/month or discounted for annual plans
So if you pay monthly, the first year costs around $219 ($99.95 + 12 months at $9.95).
Opting for the annual subscription at $7.95/month drops the yearly cost to $195.40.
Overall, FitBark provides flexibility in subscription options. Though it is a significant added monthly expense on top of the upfront device cost.Check Price at Amazon
For Tractive, here are the costs involved:
- Device cost: $49.99
- Subscription: Required at $13/month or lower rates for 1-2 year plans
If you choose the month-to-month subscription, expect to pay around $206 the first year ($49.99 + 12 months at $13).
The 2-year prepaid plan at $7/month lowers the annual costs to about $134.Check Price at Amazon
Tractive costs significantly less upfront but ends up costing only $13/year less than FitBark if you pay monthly subscriptions. Opting for annual plans helps lower the costs for both collars.
But you get what you pay for in terms of better features and accuracy with FitBark. The lower upfront investment for Tractive GPS can pay off over time.
Since dogs love water, a good GPS tracker needs to hold up when wet whether it’s raining during walks or your pup splashing in a lake.
FitBark Water Rating
The FitBark GPS dog tracker has an IP68 waterproof rating. This means it’s designed to withstand complete water submersion.
We tested this by dunking the FitBark in a bowl of water for several minutes with no issues. The collar and tracker continued working normally when dry.
The fully waterproof design provides peace of mind for water-loving dogs. FitBark also sells a waterproof case to take it swimming which keeps the port accessible for charging.
Tractive Water Rating
Tractive advertises its dog GPS tracker as waterproof but doesn’t provide an official IP rating.
In our water tests, the Tractive remained powered on after submerging it. However, we noticed the sound became muffled when trying to activate the tracker’s location beep after being wet.
The Tractive GPS tracker appears water resistant for splashes, rain, and snow. But we can’t recommend fully submerging it like you can with the FitBark based on our testing.
Thanks to its high IP68 rating, the FitBark is the better choice if you have a swimming or water-loving dog. Tractive should hold up fine in wet conditions but seems more prone to water damage from immersion based on our tests.
A longer tracking range allows you to monitor your pup from farther away – handy if they go on solo adventures!
FitBark Tracking Range
FitBark offers unlimited range for location tracking as long as the collar has battery and wireless connectivity.
Wherever Verizon cellular service and GPS satellites are accessible, you can view your dog’s whereabouts through the app.
During testing, we were able to track our furry tester over 10 miles away with no loss in connectivity. Keep in mind terrain like dense forests can interfere with GPS signal reception and reduce effective range.
But overall, FitBark provides outstanding long-distance tracking capabilities.
Tractive Tracking Range
Similarly, Tractive claims to have no set range limit on location tracking, only restricted by cellular and GPS availability.
We tested the Tractive up to 6 miles away and maintained a steady connection. Dense forest terrain caused some temporary blips in reception but it quickly recovered connectivity.
Both FitBark and Tractive offer excellent long-range tracking capabilities thanks to cellular and satellite connectivity. In our testing, connectivity remained solid even when miles away from each collar.
Location Updates & Mapping
The frequency of location updates is important – more real-time data allows you to track your pup’s path and find them faster if lost. And detailed mapping makes it easier to pinpoint their location.
FitBark Location Updates & Mapping
The FitBark app provides real-time location updates defaulting to every 10-60 seconds depending on whether “Rest” or “Active” tracking mode is enabled.
You can also activate Live Tracking mode which updates your dog’s location every 1-3 seconds – the fastest rate of any tracker we tested. This allows following your dog’s movements in near real-time.
The mobile app shows your dog’s location on a highly detailed map including street names, walking paths, buildings, bodies of water, and more. We found the mapping extremely helpful for identifying our tester dog’s exact location quickly.
Tractive Location Updates & Mapping
By default, the Tractive app updates your dog’s location every 2-5 minutes.
You can manually adjust this to access Active Tracking mode with updates every 1-3 seconds – but only temporarily. After several minutes it reverts to the slower default tracking speed.
The mobile app mapping shows your dog’s location via a red dot on a more basic map without much lane or landmark details. We found Tractive’s less detailed maps made it harder to quickly pinpoint our dog’s exact location.
FitBark provides real-time location updates more frequently than Tractive – especially during active tracking. And FitBark’s detailed street-level mapping with landmarks clearly beats out Tractive’s basic maps.
FitBark vs Tractive: Health & Activity Tracking
In addition to GPS location tracking, both FitBark and Tractive log your dog’s daily activity and sleep levels. This provides helpful health insights.
FitBark Health Tracking
The FitBark app tracks advanced health and activity metrics like:
- Active minutes per day
- Sleep quality scores
- Distance traveled
- Steps taken
- Calories burned
- And much more
You can view helpful graphs and trends to monitor changes over time. It even lets you compare activity versus other dogs based on breed and age.
We found FitBark provides the most in-depth health metrics of any GPS dog tracker. And the mobile app provides great insights into your dog’s activity patterns and overall wellness.
Tractive Health Tracking
With Tractive, you can view daily stats for:
- Active time
- Resting time
- Distance covered
- Steps taken
- Calories burned
The Tractive app shows simple bar graphs for the daily stats but doesn’t offer as many options for comparing over time or against other dogs’ activity.
Overall, it covers the basics when it comes to health metrics but lacks the deeper analytics of FitBark.
FitBark offers superior activity and wellness tracking versus Tractive with more advanced health metrics, graphs, comparison data, and additional features like sleep quality analysis.
However, Tractive still covers the essential activity stats if you just want basic fitness tracking.
FitBark vs Tractive: Collar Size & Weight Limits
To get a secure and comfortable fit, make sure to follow the size and weight restrictions for each GPS dog tracker.
FitBark Size & Weight Limits
The FitBark GPS tracker fits collars between 3/8 inch to 1 1/2 inches wide.
The tracker itself is relatively small at 1.3 x 1.3 x 0.6 inches – comparable to a matchbox. So it won’t add too much bulk to most collars.
FitBark supports dogs as tiny as 5 pounds up to 90+ lb pups. The only requirement is being able to fit the device securely on their collar.
Tractive Size & Weight Ranges
Tractive recommends its GPS tracker for dogs over 9 pounds.
The tracker weighs 1.2 oz and measures 1.4 x 1.4 x 0.6 inches – very similar to FitBark.
It can be attached to any collar between 3/8 inch to 1 1/8 inches wide. The included elastic fastening band ensures a snug fit.
Both GPS collars are compact and can accommodate most medium to larger dogs. FitBark works for slightly smaller dogs down to 5 lbs but has a smaller maximum collar width.
Otherwise both provide a wide range of sizing options for secure fitting.
FitBark vs Tractive: 8 Key Differences
Here’s a quick summary of the major differences between FitBark and Tractive dog GPS trackers based on our hands-on testing:
|Highly accurate location tracking
|Good accuracy but more inconsistencies
|5-10 days average
|2-5 days average
|$219 first year ($99.95 + $9.95/month)
|$193 first year ($49.99 + $12.99/month)
|Fully waterproof IP68 rating
|Water resistant but no IP rating
|Real-time every 1-60 secs
|Every 2-5 mins (adjustable)
|Detailed maps with street names and landmarks
|Basic maps with limited details
|Advanced wellness metrics and trends
|Basic daily health stats
Both devices offer excellent tracking capabilities. But based on our head-to-head testing, FitBark consistently outperformed Tractive in key categories like location accuracy, battery runtime, water resistance, activity monitoring, and more.
See how Tractive compares to Findster in our head-to-head comparison.
FitBark vs Tractive: Pros and Cons
To help summarize the differences, here are the main pros and cons of FitBark and Tractive GPS dog trackers.
- Highly accurate real-time location tracking
- Long 5-10 day battery life
- Fully waterproof and swim-ready
- Unlimited nationwide range
- Advanced health/activity monitoring
- Detailed mapping in app
- Works for dogs as small as 5 lbs
- Expensive ($99.95 + monthly fees)
- Must recharge weekly or so
- No wifi/Bluetooth only mode to save battery
- Affordable price only $49.99 upfront
- No range limitations
- Easy to attach to collar
- Works worldwide
- Basic health tracking
Tractive offers similar lightweight construction and water resistance. Read our guide on how waterproof AirTags are to see how they compare. See our full Tractive GPS Pet Tracker review for an in-depth look.
- Lacks FitBark’s premium features
- Shorter battery lifespan
- Not fully waterproof
- Limited app health analytics
- Tracking accuracy suffers at times
- No WiFi/Bluetooth-only mode
Both devices have pros and cons that make one better suited for certain dog owners’ needs. We’re partial to FitBark’s outstanding performance and features, albeit at a higher price. Tractive appeals if you want solid basic tracking at low cost.
For more comparisons of other popular dog GPS trackers, check out our in-depth showdown of Whistle vs Tractive.
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a GPS Dog Tracker (Cont.)
- Tracking accuracy – The most critical factor. Look for claims of accuracy within a certain radius (the smaller the better) and multiple location technologies for reliable tracking.
- Battery life – Longer battery life means less frequent charging. Expect runtimes from 2-10 days for most collars – the longer the better.
- Water resistance – Ensure the tracker is at least waterproof/water-resistant. But ideally look for an IP67 or IP68 rating for full immersion protection.
- Cellular and satellite connectivity – Check that the tracker uses multiple satellite systems like GPS, GLONASS, etc plus cellular networks for better reliability and range.
- App features – A mobile app with real-time location updates is essential. Additional perks like health tracking or customizable safety zones provide added value.
FAQ: FitBark and Tractive GPS Dog Trackers
Some frequently asked questions about comparing FitBark vs Tractive for dogs:
Do FitBark or Tractive work without cellular coverage?
Both require cellular connectivity for real-time location updates. Without cell service, the trackers will only record location data to sync later when back in coverage. Offline mode offers limited functionality.
How long do the batteries last for each tracker?
In our testing:
- FitBark lasted around 5-10 days on average
- Tractive lasted 2-5 days typically
Frequent live tracking drains both batteries quicker.
Can you track a dog’s location without a subscription?
The subscription is mandatory to access real-time GPS tracking for both FitBark and Tractive. It covers the cellular data costs for transmitting location data. Without the subscription, you can’t view your dog’s live or past location.
Which is more accurate at live tracking?
FitBark consistently provided more precise and reliable real-time location tracking in our testing. Tractive was prone to more interruptions and fluctuations in accuracy.
What sizes of dogs can use each collar?
- FitBark fits dogs 5+ lbs with collar widths up to 1.5 inches
- Tractive fits dogs 9+ lbs with collar widths up to 1.25 inches
Both work best for medium dogs and up. Very petite breeds may have issues with the tracker size.
The Verdict: FitBark vs Tractive
After extensive hands-on testing, we believe the FitBark GPS dog tracker is the best option available in 2024 for most pet owners.
While more expensive upfront, FitBark wins out for:
- Providing the most accurate and reliable location tracking
- Having 2X the battery life for longer use between charges
- Offering fully waterproof construction
- Featuring detailed mapping in the mobile app
- Tracking the most comprehensive health and activity metrics
- And working for smaller dogs down to 5 pounds
However, Tractive remains a compelling budget-friendly alternative. The lower price point plus solid basic features make it ideal for dogs on a budget. It just can’t match the premium performance and extras of FitBark.
Hopefully this detailed and honest FitBark vs Tractive comparison helps you pick which GPS dog collar fits both your pet’s needs and your budget! We wish you and your pup happy trails.