GPS Dog Collar Versus Dog Microchip – What Do You Need?

GPS Dog Collar Versus Dog Microchip Showdown

gps dog collar versus dog microchip

​Welcome to the world of pet tracking.
A very common thought that pet owners have is “My dog’s microchipped so I don’t need a pet tracker”…
..or “My dog has a tracker already inside of him because he’s been microchipped”.

​This actually leads to a lot of confusion so to help you make sense of it all I’m going to be talking about gps dog collars versus microchips for dogs, what each of them are and why they are very, very different.

Ultimately a microchip isn’t enough. By the time you finish reading this you’ll understand why :).

Let me start by explaining the way a gps dog collar works and then a dog microchip.

​How A GPS Dog Collar Works


Gps Dog Collar Example

​Now you may have a gps system that helps you navigate to different locations in your car. A gps dog collar or pet tracker works in much the same way with the help of Global Positioning Systems that are circling the earth at any given moment transmitting radio signals.

gps dog collar with map

When you have, for example, a pet tracking device with GPS functionality these very same types of tracking or locating signals are received via the device via their built-in gps receiver.

gps dog collar with smartphone apps

How The Tractive GPS Dog Collar Works

If you have it set up with a GPS pet tracking app you can then view the location of your pet via a map and often with helpful directions. You can usually also view the same map online via the pet tracking company’s website.

So that gives you a brief overview of how a gps dog collar or tracking device works.  I have gone into more detail in my blog post “how does a pet tracking device work

Now let’s move onto dog microchips and why they won’t do everything you need it to if you want to be able to find them quickly should they venture too far.

​How A Dog Microchip Works

​A dog microchip works in a very different way. They don’t rely on Global Positioning Systems; rather, they rely on radio frequency and are, in fact, known as a Radio Frequency Identification Device.

Now each dog microchip has its own unique identifying serial number. Usually when you buy a pet it’s already been microchipped by the veterinarian ultimately as a form of identification that is completely unique to them.

Now let’s say your pet runs off. Someone who sees him may not know that they should take him to a veterinary clinic or shelter for identification scanning. Of course, once your pet arrives at the clinic or shelter a whole host of new problems can arise.

  1. ​They may not actually have a universal scanner so any microchip isn’t detectable.
  2. Do you know that it’s quite common for microchips to migrate to another location inside your pet? As they rely on radio frequency, the scanner may be looking for the microchip in an area that it’s now moved from and an
    identification can’t be made.
  3. The person doing the scanning may not be doing a thorough job in searching for the chip and, once again, identification can’t be made.
  4. Do you know that it can take anywhere up to 2 months to update your microchip information on the national database if you have moved or your contact information has changed?

GPS Dog Collars Versus Radio Frequency Dog Microchips

​Okay, the function of both of these pet devices is quite different.

Ultimately, there is an important use for both pet trackers and pet microchips but you should never confuse one for the other. They have very distinct differences and purposes.

The microchip ultimately is a form of identification.

If someone finds your dog somewhere and takes them to a vet, if they have a microchip inside and the vet or shelter has a scanner they will be able to find out the name of your dog and where your dog lives (provided the national database has the latest contact information for you).

Now here is a significant problem.

Let’s say you have moved a few times in the past year or so and your dog has not been regularly seen by a vet AND you have not given your new address. Let’s say you’ve changed cell numbers too. The vet hasn’t got an up to date way to contact you to let you know that they’ve found your dog.

Let’s say you’ve actually updated your contact information with your vet but the national database hasn’t been updated yet?

With the use of pet tracking technology you can actually proactively track your pet’s location with the use of Global Positioning Satellites and cellular towers to determine the location of your pet.

You will have to regularly charge your gps pet tags but you will also have the benefit of being able to see live via your smartphone the location of your pet via maps and directions.

I have reviewed a number of gps dog collars and gps tracking devices that are very popular choices of pet owners.  They include:  Tractive GPS Pet Tracker and Whistle 3 Pet Tracker.

You may not be aware that there are also pet trackers on the market that don’t rely on GPS technology, but radio frequency and they are extremely popular too. They can have a much longer range and also a much longer battery life. I have reviewed a number of radio frequency pet trackers and you can read all about them here:  Marco Polo Pet Monitoring System, Loc8tor Pet Cat Locator and Loc8tor Lite

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