This smart dog collar is stylish—but does it actually work?
Looks aren't everything, after all
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If you’ve ready any of my articles before, you know I’m admittedly an over-enthusiastic dog parent—my dog takes the bus to daycare once a week, for Pete’s sake. Given that information, it should come as no surprise that I’m extremely interested in smart dog collars, which track key health data regarding your dog’s activity, as well as their location.
With the risk of sounding preachy for a quick second, canine obesity can lead to a variety of other serious health conditions, and overweight dogs typically live shorter lives. I need my baby Addy to live as long as possible—after all, she’s my best friend—so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep her fit and healthy. That’s where the Fi Collar comes in.
What is the Fi Smart Dog Collar?
The Fi Smart Dog Collar is essentially a Fitbit for your dog. (If you’re looking for a Fitbit for yourself, we also have a list of the best models to buy.) The Fi Collar tracks your dog’s activity throughout the day, and when you purchase a subscription, it can also monitor their location via GPS.
The Fi Collar costs $149, and it includes a collar that comes in four sizes and four colors. If you opt for a GPS/LTE subscription for the collar, it will cost you an additional $99 per year. However, what’s nice is you don’t have to purchase a subscription—you can use it as a fitness tracker, and you just won’t get the GPS tracking abilities.
What does Fi track?
The Fi collar captures data throughout the day, and you can view all the information via its smartphone app. I generally compare Fi to a Fitbit because it mainly tracks your dog’s steps—your dog has a “step goal” for the day, and through the app, you can monitor how many steps they’ve taken, how they’re progressing toward their daily goal, and which days they met their goal. It also tells you how far they've traveled each day. The Fi suggests a goal for your pup, but you can adjust it as needed: it recommendations about 5,000 steps for small dogs, about 10,000 steps for "agile" dogs, and 25,000 steps for active dogs.
You can adjust the goal to suit your dog’s needs, and the app will even send you updates throughout the day about how many steps your dog has taken. For instance, every time we finish a walk, the Fi app will send a push notification to my Apple Watch, detailing how many steps Addy took and how many more she needs to meet her goal.
If you opt into the GPS subscription, the collar will also track your dog’s location. You can set a geofence around your home, and the collar will create a record every time your dog leaves the designated area. It will let you know whether your pooch left home with someone in your family or is wandering by themselves, and if they’re not supposed to be out, you can switch on Lost Dog mode, which provides real-time location updates to help you track them.
Everything we loved about the Fi Collar
Addy and I tested the Fi Collar for more than a month, and she wore it every day. Overall, we were impressed with it, including the following features.
The stylish, durable design Other smart dog collars we’ve tested are bulky, boxy units that you attach to your dog’s existing collar, and I really liked that Fi not only comes with a stylish collar but has a sleek, unobtrusive design.
To prove my point, Addy and I visited with one of our friends during testing who said, “Oh, is that a new collar? It’s cute!” She didn’t even notice it was a smart collar until I pointed it out. Plus, if you don’t like the nylon collar that comes with Fi, the brand recently launched its Fi Makers program, which allows popular dog brands to create Fi-compatible collars. There are lots of cute options, and you’re sure to find one that fits your dog’s style.
However, the Fi collar is not just a pretty face, either. Addy truly put it through its paces—she went swimming, banged it around, and even rolled in horse poop while wearing it. (I was not pleased.) Through all this, the collar never had any problems, and I was able to easily clean it off when needed.
The easy-to-use app The Fi app is simple and straightforward to use. On the main screen, you can see your dog’s current status, as well as their recent activity. There’s also an activity tab that shows you their steps for the day and performance over the last week.
There are a few other tabs on the Fi app, as well. First, there’s a Discover page that shows you cute images of other dogs who use the Fi collar, and there’s also a Rank page that shows you how your dog’s performance compares to other Fi users. You can choose to see their overall rank among all Fi users, their rank among dogs of the same breed, as well as their rank within your state.
Finally, I liked that you can link your dog’s Instagram account to your Fi profile—because let’s be honest, most of us overzealous pet parents have social media profiles for our animals.
The super-long battery life
The brand says that if your dog is mostly at home, the battery can last up to three months, and with walks outside the home, it will likely last for around two months between charges. That’s miles ahead of any other product available today. Plus, if your dog ever gets out, a full battery can support up to two days on Lost Dog mode, which updates their location every 60 seconds.
The accurate GPS abilities As mentioned above, you don’t have to subscribe to the brand’s GPS tracking, which is great for someone like me who couldn’t lose their dog if they tried. However, we tested the GPS features for the sake of a comprehensive review and they were incredibly reliable and accurate.
Any time I took Addy on a walk, the app would accurately map our route, and if my boyfriend ever walked her, it would send me a notification that Addy had left our designated “Home” area. (If I wanted the collar to know Addy was with him, I could create a Fi account for him.)
I also tested out the “Lost Dog” functionality while she was walking with my boyfriend, and true to its claim, the app updated with a real-time location every 60 seconds, letting me know where Addy was and the quickest route to locate her.
A few areas where Fi has room for improvement
While there was a lot we liked about the Fi Collar, there were a few things that we thought could be improved. First, we would have liked if the collar tracked more than just steps and distance. Other smart collars can track your dog’s minutes of activity, type of activity, sleep time, and even how often they’re licking or scratching.
Second, it’s a bit limiting that the geofence you set up as your “safe zone" can only be a circle. Many people have yards that are rectangular, square, or just weird shapes, so it would be nice if the app gave you the option to draw a freestyle perimeter.
Finally, while we loved the look of the collar, the material is fairly slippery, and we found that it tends to loosen up over time, especially if your dog tends to pull. It’s not the end of the world, but just something to be aware of.
Here’s how Fi compares to the Whistle Go
If you’re looking at smart dog collars, chances are you’ve also discovered the Whistle Go, which is arguably one of the Fi Collar’s main competitors. Luckily for you, we tested the Whistle Go, as well. While they may appear similar at first glance, these two smart collars are substantially different, and overall, we liked the design of the Fi Collar better but thought the Whistle Go offered more useful tracking data. For this reason, the best choice for you really depends on how you plan to use the device. Here's what we liked about each one.
The main benefits of the Fi Collar include:
- Sleek design with collar
- Extremely long battery life
- Simple, straightforward app
- Optional GPS subscription
The major Whistle Go benefits include:
- Tracks minutes of activity, sleep time, scratching, licking, location, and more
- Freeform geofence area
- Personalized food portion calculator
- Less expensive up-front cost
Is the Fi Smart Collar worth it?
While the Fi Smart Dog Collar doesn’t have the same breadth of data tracking as other smart collars, I would still buy it for Addy. I really liked that this collar has an attractive design and is incredibly durable, and it’s an added bonus that I can purchase other stylish collars to use with the same unit.
Another major selling point for me is that the GPS tracking subscription is optional. As I mentioned, Addy is a “velcro dog” and barely ever leaves my side, so the Lost Dog functionality isn’t something we’d use very often—if ever.
While I do wish the Fi Collar tracked more than just steps, I think it’s a great value and fits our needs well. However, if you’re looking for more data and deeper health insights, you might prefer a different product, such as the Whistle Go.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.