Difference between Microchip and GPS Trackers

Very often, many dog owners ask us, “My dog has a microchip, do I still need a GPS tracker?”

The answer is YES, you still need a GPS tracker! 

Key purpose: Who vs. Where

The key purpose of a microchip is to identify who the dog is and what his microchip ID number is whereas GPS trackers help you find where your dog is by providing you with your dog’s location information on a map.

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is a tiny electronic device about the size of a grain of rice enclosed in a very small glass cylinder and injected into your dog’s loose skin generally near the shoulder. Microchips typically do not harm your pet. Once your vet injects the microchip, they also need to register the microchip else the injected microchip will be useless. 

Microchip only contains the microchip ID number. To read this ID, a special machine is needed which uses RFID technology. This RFID reader is typically available with vets or shelters. The range of this reader may vary from 3cm to 10cm. This means someone needs to first find your lost dog and take them to the vet or a shelter who would then be able to bring the RFID reader really close to your dog in order to read the microchip ID and eventually identify the dog.

What is a GPS Tracker?

A GPS Tracker is a tracking device that tells you your dog’s location in real-time via a mobile app. A GPS tracker can be placed on your dog’s collar and does not require any invasive procedure. You can then use your smartphone to locate your dog on a map. 

GPS trackers contain a lot more information compared to a microchip. GPS trackers locates your dog in real time, informs you with routes taken in the past and alerts you when your pet leaves a designated safe area. The GPS trackers communicate with your phone and have no range limitation. This means if your dog is ever lost then you can easily locate your pet using a mobile app.

Size and Technology 

Microchips are really tiny and are based on RFID technology. Thus, they have range limitations. To read the ID, the dog needs to be really close to a special RFID reader. 

GPS trackers are typically the size of a match box. They have a GPS chip, antenna, SIM card and a battery pack. GPS tracking device triangulates satellites to identify the location which is then transferred to our cloud based servers via the cellular /mobile network. This information is then reflected on your phone in the mobile application.

GPS trackers work on rechargeable batteries which need to be recharged every few days depending on the usage.

Summary

Following is a quick summary of some of the key points discussed above which highlights the differences between a microchip and a GPS tracker

Description

Microchip

GPS Tracker

Key benefit

Helps identify the dog

Helps locate the dog

Process

Invasive: injected in your dog by a vet

Non-Invasive: placed on your dog’s collar

Size

Tiny: Size of a rice grain

Small: Size similar to a match box

Information

Only contains Microchip ID

Contains location, historical data, distance travelled

Range

10cm

Dog needs to be found first before identification

No range limitation

Dog can be tracked anywhere in the world

Special reader needed 

(Yes or No)

Yes

Requires special RFID reader to read the microchip ID

No

You can use your smartphone to get all the location information

Do I need a microchip at all?

Yes! You need a microchip as well. 

Collars can be removed but microchips are not easy to remove so it is beneficial to have them implanted in your dogs or cats especially to identify your dog when they are found after being lost or stolen. 

In order to keep your dog safe, please follow the best practices which includes implanting a microchip in your dog, placing a GPS tracker on the collar and a tag with your dog’s name and your phone number.