Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available?

The Fi Dog Collar Series 2 is a GPS smart collar for your dog, which uses a combination of Wi-Fi and GPS to track your dog’s location, as well as tracking the number of steps your dog has taken in the day. Perhaps obviously once you think about it, the ‘Fi’ in Fi Dog Collar is pronounced the same as the Fi in ‘Fido’ or Wi-Fi. For this Fi Collar review, I initially wore the device every day for two months straight (spoiler alert, I’m still wearing a Fi collar more than a year on). Keep reading this Fi Dog Collar review to find out what I (and my humans) think about using this GPS Fi Collar in real-world, everyday scenarios.


Fi Collar Review Contents


How does the Fi Dog Collar work?

The Fi Dog Collar uses the AT&T network for locating your dog when he or she is out of the house alone, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-based safe zones, which would typically include:

  • Your home – where your dog’s Fi Collar base station should be plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi
  • Proximity to you – or more specifically, within Bluetooth range of your phone
  • As needed, additional base locations (such as your office, or dog sitter/parents’ home), and the phones of other trusted people, such as your dog walker, friend, spouse, kid, etc.
Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
The Fi Collar Design is very attractive

What is the Fi Dog Collar made from?

The Fi Dog Collar has a nice, solid construction to it. It’s definitely a lot heavier than my regular webbing collar, as it has a matchbox-sized GPS unit and durable metal hardware, including a quick-release buckle and loop for dog tags and leash attachment. My favorite dog running leash connects very nicely to it.

Fi Collar metal buckle
Fi Collar metal buckle

Fi state that their collar is chew-proof and generally dog-proof – and it comes with a 1 year warranty, which is reassuring. I’ve worn mine pretty much every day for the last couple of months and it has picked up a few light scratches as you can just about see in the photos, and I’m sure it will pick up a few more scratches as I spend more time on the trails and nosing into brambles, that sort of thing.

If you do damage your Fi dog tracking collar’s fabric, or you want to change the color, you can buy a replacement nylon webbing part for less than $30. I’d be tempted to go for the jazzier and higher-visibility yellow Fi collar if I was to need a new one.

Due to the weight, I didn’t start wearing my Fi Dog Collar until I had grown to 30lb and was a 4+ month-old pup, as my parents didn’t want me wearing a heavier collar when I was younger and smaller – plus, I was more of a baby dog at that point so I wasn’t able to go out on as many adventures as I do now.

Is the Fi Dog Collar waterproof?

Yes! If you’re going to invest in a Fi collar dog GPS tracker and pay a lot more than a regular dog collar to buy one, then you definitely need it to be waterproof and stand up to not just rain but your dog jumping into ponds, lakes, puddles, etc etc. I’ve tried drowning it in a lake when my humans took me SUP’ing, but haven’t been able to.

Fi Dog Collar Reviews Kepler Dog on SUP Trail and Kale
Kepler with his Fi GPS Collar on a SUP – CLICK HERE to see the Instagram post.

It’s personal preference but I prefer to have my baths naked, so I haven’t tried it in the bath, but if the Fi collar folks say it’s waterproof, then I guess you could have a bath with it on, too (but why would you feel the need to, unless you hate baths that much that you may escape from home mid-bath?).

fi collar review trail and kale
Kepler wearing his Fi Collar dog GPS tracker on a recent trip to Oregon

How long does the battery last on the Fi GPS Dog Collar?

One of the outstanding features of the Fi Dog Collar is that the battery can last up to three months between charges. The three months battery life is based on if your collar does not spend much time outside of the range of your home base station, i.e. you don’t get out much.

The length of time the Fi collar’s battery lasts naturally depends on how active a dog you are and how much time you spend out of the range of the house base station, which will require the collar to use more battery power in connecting to your parents/dog-walker’s phone via Bluetooth, and picking up GPS signal when out of range of their phone and your home base (if you have a Fi subscription to effectively turn your Fi Dog Collar into its own mobile device – more on that, later).

As a Border Collie, and therefore pretty much by definition one of the most active dog breeds, I do drain the battery quicker than the stated three months maximum battery life – at least based on my first couple of months of using my Fi collar dog GPS tracker – my parents charged it after around 8 weeks. But still, 8 weeks for a collar worn by a busy puppy doing 2-3 walks a day is a long time to go between charges (especially when considering my parents have to charge their smartwatches pretty much daily!).

Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
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What is a ‘safe zone’ for the Fi Dog Collar?

The Fi Dog Collar comes with a Fi Base, which is also used to charge the Fi collar.

Safe zones are defined by a perimeter range around the Fi Base, as well as when the collar is away from home but within bluetooth range of a designated owner/dog-walker. Having the home safe-zone being designated by the Base location helps save on battery life as the Fi collar dog GPS tracker doesn’t need to pick up and track from GPS when it knows it’s within range of the base station, which is a neat feature.

You set up the Base and the designated humans using the Fi app. Designated humans may include family members, your dog walker and any one else who may be alone with your dog. Designated humans need to have their phone with them and the Fi app installed for this to work.

If your dog is near one of your designated owners/walkers when out of the house, then you can then get notified via the Fi app notification and / or text message when they leave the safe (home) zone for a walk with that person. For example, the message my parents receive when my Dad takes me out for a walk is ‘Kepler just left home with Alastair’.

Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running
Backcountry sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

If I was to leave home without someone my parents have set up in the Fi app, or if the person walking me does not have their phone with them, the message my parents receive will just say ‘Kepler just left home’. If you receive a notification like this, and you know your dog should not be out on a walk somewhere, then this may be the trigger you need to set off the ‘Lost Dog Mode’ and start tracking down the sneaky canine if they’ve escaped home.

For me, the message comes through within around a minute of leaving the house – I have to be outside of the safe-zone perimeter, which extends beyond our front door (as our current home is not large) so there is sometimes a lag between me leaving the front door and triggering the notifications that I have left home.

It’s also worth noting that your dog is frequently at another location (such as a friend or family members’, pet sitters’, office, etc.) it may be helpful to have an additional Fi Base (currently $39) to avoid having to transport your home Fi Base and reconfigure wifi to each location. Also, if you have a large house/property then you may also benefit from having more than one base station (assuming each base station can connect to a wifi network – i.e. you can’t get one to have at the end of the garden if that’s out of range of your Wi-Fi).

How does the Fi Collar dog GPS tracker ‘Lost Dog Mode’ work?

If you activate Fi Collar’s ‘Lost Dog Mode’ using your Fi app, then this turns on live location tracking on your dog’s collar to help find him or her [note: you need to have a Fi subscription so that effectively your Fi GPS Collar acts as its own cell phone, to enable the Fi collar to be tracked using phone signal for GPS, when your dog is not with an owner].

Lost Dog Mode also activates a red pulsing light on your dog’s Fi collar to help make them easier to spot in the dark, and sends a location notification to you every minute so you can track them down. When we tested it (by having my Mom take me out without her phone, so it looked like I had taken myself for a walk), the GPS was accurate to within around 50ft or so. This was a fun game of ‘find me’, but it could save my life if I was to escape. 

I expect the accuracy would vary depending on how strong and reliable the cell service is in a location where your dog goes missing, but I would hope that it gets my parents close enough to me that they can either see me at a distance and / or call me back to them. It’s also worth noting that because the Fi collar dog GPS tracker relies on me being within cell service, it won’t be able to track my location in an area without phone signal.

When in Lost Dog Mode, the battery life of the Fi collar dog GPS tracker is up to two days, as it’s using GPS signals to refresh the location status every minute, which consumes a lot more battery juice than regular use.

Does the Fi Dog Collar dog tracking device have a light?

Yes! One feature that my parents love is that at the push of a button on the Fi app, my Fi collar lights up with a pulsing light. You can choose from 7 different colors including blue, pink, yellow and green. It’s just one one part of the Fi collar so not anything super-bright or flashy, but it’s a nice feature for night walks, especially if it’s very dark where you are, you’re near an area with cars or other people, and you’re a dark-colored dog who is harder to see.

Activity Tracker for Dogs: Using the Fi GPS Collar to track your dog’s steps

activity summary Fi Collar review trail and kale
Fi Collar App activity summary screen

A nice feature of the Fi GPS Dog Collar is that it’s not just a dog GPS tracker to find your dog’s location. My Fi collar dog GPS tracker also counts my steps and summarizes how many steps I did on each walk. This way, my humans can use the app to set a daily step goal for me, and track my daily step activity in the Fi app.

I gather there is no proven science specifying what is a ‘healthy’ amount of steps for a dog, and of course that would vary between dogs’ individual needs. But it’s a nice feature, and like a human’s smartwatch step tracker, can be used as a prompt to make sure that if you’ve had a quiet few days and not taken your pup out for as much activity as normal, you may want to step it up.

Equally, and importantly for a growing boy such as myself, the goal can also be used as a target to stay BELOW – ie. So that I don’t get too much exercise, as I need to make sure I don’t over-use my growing puppy body and risk an injury.

breed ranking overview Fi Collar review trail and kale
Fi Collar App breed ranking overview

One nice feature that my parents find entertaining is the ranking by breed, which tracks the last month of steps and compares you to how other dogs of your breed are doing with their step count. There are options to set yourself up as a mixed breed, so I’m in a category with Border Collies and Border Collie mixes, for example.

Using the Fi app

My parents like the Fi app and find it clean and easy-to-use. Some may say the app is overly-simplistic in terms of activity tracking as it doesn’t track much more than your dog’s steps and GPS location points, but they like the easy-to-use functionality – and – hey, I’m a dog, not a pro athlete (yet), so I don’t think anyone in my family feels the need to get much more granular in terms of the details of my activity just yet, tracking steps is enough.

In the future, though, perhaps a good direction for Fi to investigate would be heart rate tracking – imagine the possibilities! We all know that for humans doing ‘X amount of exercise at a heart rate within a given range’ is better than just doing ‘X steps in a day’, so this would be an awesome feature. Not sure how they’d get a good heart rate reading past all my fur, though…

How much does the Fi Dog Collar cost?

The Fi Smart Dog Collar costs $149 at the time of writing this Fi dog collar review – that includes either a grey or yellow collar and the main matchbox-sized GPS device mounted on it, together with the base station that you plug in at home. If you use our code 4C83FW via this link you’ll receive an extra band free of charge which is nice if you like to mix-up your look to keep your instagram followers entertained. 🙂 Use our exclusive coupon code TK25 via the link below to get $25 OFF your Fi Collar order.

You may also wish to purchase a Fi Collar subscription, as this is needed to access all the GPS-specific features used by the Fi collar, including the important ‘lost dog mode. The subscription costs $99/year, or $8.25/month, and gets your dog’s collar added as a device to the LTE-M low power cellular network, which was specifically designed for such devices, and offers 20-30% more cellular coverage in the US than 3G networks. My parents have this subscription, so this Fi collar review is as in-depth as it could be, covering the GPS-specific features of the Fi Collar dog GPS tracker.

Do you need a Fi Subscription to use the Fi GPS Dog Collar as a dog tracker?

A subscription gives your parents access to the full capabilities of your dog’s Fi collar – allowing for remote access to your location and activity. The cost of the subscription covers the GPS/LTE connection to the Fi collar – effectively, making it into a mobile device.

Without a subscription, the Fi collar will still function – but if you go outside the range of your peoples’ smartphone or your Fi Base, then nobody can use the Fi Collar’s functionality to locate you. This kind of defeats the point of one of the key functions of the Fi Dog Collar, that is, so that people can track you and have a much better chance of finding you if you wander off, so it seems that if you are considering getting your dog a Fi GPS collar, then you should get the subscription.

What cell / mobile phone network does the Fi Dog Collar use?

The Fi Dog Collar uses the AT&T network for locating your dog when he or she is out of the house alone, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-based safe zones. Your own mobile phone does not have to be on the AT&T network for your Fi GPS Collar to work, the two are unrelated.

How do you remove the Fi GPS Dog Collar’s metal clips?

You may want to remove the metal clips from the Fi collar dog tracking device so that you can switch out the collars that you attach the Fi collar to. Quite a few dog collar brands are making ‘Fi-compatible’ collars, which is pretty nice if you want a specific custom collar for your dog but also want to have the Fi device attached to it. We’ve been asked this question a lot, and it’s most easily explained in a video – see below for a demonstration of how to detach those clips.

My parents also attached my Fi dog tracker unit to my favorite Ruffwear collar, which isn’t a ‘Fi-compatible’ collar but they engineered it to work! Have a read of this post if you’re curious how to use the Fi collar dog GPS tracker with other brands of collar.

The Fi Collar is surprisingly small considering the tech inside, but alas too big/heavy for a cat to wear comfortably.
The Fi Collar dog GPS tracker is surprisingly small considering the tech inside, but alas too big/heavy for a cat to wear comfortably.

Can you use the Fi Collar for cats?

No. It’s far too big for a pet cat to wear, unfortunately – because a Fi collar for a cat would be great and I’m sure my feline brothers would like to wear their own gadgets and look as cool and high-tech as me.

Fi Dog Collar Review trail and kale
Fi Dog Collar Review
Design & Function
9
Durability
8.5
Performance
8.5
PROS
Robust design
Exceptional battery life
Waterproof
Ability to set multiple safe zones and owners
CONS
Limited color options
Key functions require cell signal and a subscription
8.7
Overall Score

Fi Dog Collar Review (VIDEO)


Fi Collar Review: Is the Fi Dog Collar the best GPS Dog collar?

Certainly on features, the Fi Dog Collar is one of the best dog tracking collars out there. By virtue of the long battery life, streamlined design and robust good looks, we’ve found it to be a great investment that I wear every day and gives my parents peace of mind that if I roam further than intended, they can quickly track me down and get me back safely. I hope you enjoyed my Fi collar review and please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.


Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
Fi Dog Collar Review 2021: Is It The Best GPS Smart Dog Collar Available? 2 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure
REI sale - Trail and Kale Trail Running

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. We may earn money if you buy from a link.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Great review and video. Purchased this for our Labrador puppy (over 30 pounds now) yesterday, and you answered every question that we had. Well done!

  2. I want to purchase this for my Toy Poodle that is 10 lbs. What is the width of the color and is it the same size width on all sizes S, M, L, XL?

    • I guess technically you could attach it to a harness if the harness has a pocket! We had thought about this too as it would be great for Kepler not too wear too much hardwear at once.

  3. We just recently received our Fi collar. There were a few hiccups in setting it up, but nothing major. For example, the app said the collar needed a firmware update and began. But then the app froze. After restarting, could never get the firmware update to start again. Contacted support through chat, and they said this was a know app problem and a fix was coming. She also verified our collar was running the latest version of firmware.

    After about a week now, we are really enjoying all this collar provides, esp the fitness tracking and rankings. Also, the GPS maps seem quite accurate when we are out for walks, so there is the piece of mind that comes from knowing that we should be able to locate our dog if she gets lost.

  4. my wife (77) broke her femur in February..trying to rehab her was a chore in and of itself….then we had to put our much loved pound pooch to sleep in June….I found a new rescue (Bandit) and got the FI the next week….this is now Sept….she is walking this little beast 3-4 miles per day….Bandit is #535 overall in the nation…#5 in his breed and #30 in Texas…(as of 9-23-20) she is trying for #1….our neighbors are beginning to think my wife is mad at me….this thing has made our lives so much easier and has helped her more than any rehab facility ever could….our many thanks to you for this wonderful product …..I wish I could attach a photo of the 2 of them….

    • Sorry about your wife’s injury and saying goodbye to your beloved pooch. Congratulations on your wife’s recovery and your newest addition, Bandit! I am so impressed by your wife walking 3-4 miles per day. Dogs are such blessings and it sounds like Bandit is doing quite well while keeping your wife busy. Very inspiring. Thanks for adding a review, I will keep the Fi collar in mind.

  5. My Lab’s Fi collar broke apart when subjected to strong pulling. Fi replaced the collar, and also stated that “…the pull force is 100 lbs and with larger dogs this can be exceeded if they pull. ” Ordinarily my Lab doesn’t pull at all but he was attacked, so his pulling was not surprising. The plastic crap used to fasten the collar to the GPS module failed: the collar broke. The Fi collar is not trustworthy.

  6. The Fi Collar uses AT&T. I want to make sure I understand correctly … that the $99/year subscription adding a Fi Collar will work with my Verizon Cell phone as long as there is AT&T coverage in my area. Is that correct? And for what distance and time will it show the path taken by my dog if he is lost?

    • Hey,

      The collar works independent of your cellphone’s service provider. It will show you location until the battery of the collar runs out… which in our experience is around 8 weeks (depending on how much time your dog spends away from the wifi base unit at home. The collar battery runs down a bit quicker the more GPS it uses.

  7. Ok so I just wanted to add to a previous question, so I do have AT&T but if someone didn’t have that service could they use this tracker ? I know it says it runs through there, but you had stated it runs independent to the service company. I am really in need of a good tracker, as my dog is very active and will literally rocket off with not a second thought ( as I experienced today ? very stressful)

    • Hi Kristen,

      The Fi runs on its own cellular service so it doesn’t matter what service provider you or anyone else has – the Fi collar will still work. Think of it as having its own little sim card in it.

  8. Would this work if we don’t have WiFi at home and live in the country, in a wooded area, where cellphone service is not very reliable?

    • Hi Sarah, good question. I think it’s fair to assume that if phone service isn’t very reliable then the GPS/LTE-M network the collar uses to track your dog’s location may not be able to update often enough to be that accurate. It would still track their steps, etc, though, as that doesn’t require GPS. Also, if the collar is mainly working on either bluetooth (when in range of a phone with the app and connected via bluetooth) or GPS/LTE-M signal because it can’t connect to a wifi network then this would run the battery down much quicker than it would otherwise. There’s some useful info in the help section of their website to this effect (see extract below):

      “The Fi collar will always try to use the least amount of battery possible. Whenever it’s in range of your Fi base or a smartphone belonging to a designated owner with the Fi mobile app installed, and running, the collar will use those connections (via Bluetooth) to locate your pup and display their activity.

      Once the collar is out of range of either your Fi base or Fi app (bluetooth signal), the collar will use GPS to acquire your pup’s location. It is extremely important that the Fi Collar only connect to LTE-M/GPS outdoors, as GPS it not reliable indoors. In order to to achieve the longest battery life, it is also essential GPS is only used when needed (when you are apart from your dog, and they are outdoors.) ”

      I hope this helps!

  9. Thanks for your article. Can the monthly subscription be added and restarted at any time? What if I don’t “turn on” the monthly subscription until I need the GPS services? Thanks.

    • Hey Lulus,

      That’s a great question! I think the paid subscription starts 1 month after you activate your Fi collar (you get 1 month free). Here’s some more info from their FAQ section:

      GPS subscriptions include a free 30-day trial. This means that you won’t be charged for whichever plan you add to your cart with your Fi collar immediately upon checkout, but, instead, in 30 days after activating your pup’s Fi collar. This cost will be charged to your original form of payment and your subscription will auto-renew by default at the end each cycle. All subscriptions are billed in annual increments.

      Subscriptions can be cancelled within 30 days of activation date, during the trial period.
      Billed subscriptions are non-refundable.
      Subscriptions are set to auto-renew, to make changes please submit a request through our request form, within the renewal period (30 days before the next billing date.)

  10. What if I am using the collar without a subscription … the. My dog goes missing. Can I then purchase a subscription and use the GPS function?

    • That I’m not sure about… but if you were to have your dog go missing you’d want to be ready to start your search party rather than scrambling to signup for a subscription.

  11. Does the base unit need to be “plugged/hardwired” into the router or can the base unit connect to the router wirelessly? Thank you

  12. your review is excellent and answered questions that other reviews did not touch including Fi online!!! You supplied enough info for me to be confident to make a purchase. Thank You

  13. Hi,
    Just to be sure, I can leave the base at home and travel out of state and it will work to find dog if have subscription and cell service?
    Thank you

    • Hey Deanna! That is correct! As long as you have the subscription, the Fi collar will be tracking your dog’s whereabouts! You can setup a safezone with your mobile phone if you don’t have your base with you.

  14. Hi. I recently bought a Fi collar from a friend. It’s only a couple months old but she lives in the mountains and doesn’t have the wifi or cell service to make this collar work as she’s like. Her loss is my gain – except I cannot get a hold of anyone in customer service to help me with the transfer. I’ve sent email after email and can’t find a phone number anywhere. Help!

  15. The Fi website now links to several high-end collar & leash manufacturers that can make compatible collars in all sorts of styles–from super rugged, military/tactical styles to beaded/Austrian crystal embellished styles. Someone in comments asked about harnesses–one of Fi’s “partners” has “Fi compatible” harnesses. The collars are NOT a necessary add-on, but if someone wants something extra tough or extra bling, a nice option, and they all seem to have a $50 off promo if purchased at time of Fi unit purchase (the collars are fairly expensive, but look to be premium materials & workmanship).

    Great review! My main concern is whether one of these trackers REALLY will help me find my dog should he get lost–I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve read on the other trackers. But if this one can get me within 50 ft with updates every minute, that sounds sufficient. The last time I investigated these trackers, I wasn’t impressed. Sounds like technology has improved 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes technology has come a long way and this collar/app combination is a great way to ensure you keep your dog fit, and also have a safeguard in place, should your dog ever run off.
      -Alastair

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Kepler
Keplerhttps://www.trailandkale.com/adventure-dogs/
Hi, I'm Kepler, the official adventure dog of Trail & Kale! I'm a frisky pup with a love of life, frisbees, and dirt. I write about dog gear and the essence of being an adventure dog 🙂

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