Yes, You Should Totally Put an AirTag on Your Dog

No more neighborhood "lost dog" posters

Key Takeaways

  • Apple’s AirTags are lightweight, require no cellular subscription, and run for a year or more. 
  • Cellular+GPS dog trackers are better outside the city.
  • Cats can be tracked, too.
Two small dogs running together on a dirt road.

Alvan Nee / Unsplash

Everybody is talking about using Apple’s AirTags to find your keys, but you know what they’re really for? Tracking your runaway pet.

We all know that your little friend is a very good doggy. But occasionally, they may get overexcited and run off into the distance, possibly never to be seen again. There are plenty of expensive ways to track your pet, but they can include monthly fees and mean frequent battery charging. Enter AirTags. Are they really good for keeping tabs on doggos?

"In reality, despite Apple's advice, we believe this will become one of the key selling points of AirTags," Tammi Avallone, managing editor of the FiveBarks dog blog, told Lifewire via email. "By opening the Find My app on your compatible smartphone, you'll be able to see where your dog or cat is."

How Can AirTags Track Your Pet?

Purpose-made dog trackers like Fi or Whistle use a combination of cellular connections and GPS satellites. The GPS tracker pinpoints your best friend’s position, and the 4G connection sends that location to you, usually via an app on your phone. 

The advantage of this approach is that you can find your dog anywhere that has cell coverage. The disadvantage is that it’s an active device, equivalent to a tiny cellphone, and therefore requires frequent charging. The Whistle will last from 2-10 days, and the Fi can get up to three months in ideal conditions. 

Screenshot of a detected AirTag on an iPhone.


AirTags last for a year or more on a coin-cell battery. Their disadvantage is that they do not actively send their location to the internet. In fact, an AirTag cannot connect to the internet, nor does it ever know where it is.

Instead, AirTags emit a regular Bluetooth blip that gets picked up by any passing iOS device. This passing device then anonymously relays the tag’s location to Apple and then on to you. You can check its position at any time in the Find My app. 


"The biggest downside is, obviously, that AirTags can only work in the vicinity of other Apple devices that are on the Find My network," Aiden Taylor, founder of Furdooz dog blog, told Lifewire via email. But there are other places where Apple’s tags fail to match up to proper dog trackers.

Dog trackers are purpose-built to resist canine tampering and abuse, whereas a loose AirTag might go down the hatch, whole—although presumably, it would keep on working from the pooch’s belly.

AirTags Precision Finding on an iPhone.


"My dachshund is still a chewer, like many youngster dogs," says Taylor. "I would constantly picture him pawing off his collar and chewing up the tag, which would be a terrible scenario."

Dogs also like to swim, but unless they can manage to dive more than three feet under and stay there for a half-hour, AirTags are more than up to the task. 

Non-Dog Animals

It’s not just dogs that can benefit from AirTags. City-dwelling cat lovers might also like to track their furry friends. Although if you have a small cat, even an AirTag may be too big for their collars. Then again, it can’t be any more annoying than the bells that adorn some cat collars and ring-a-ding constantly, all day long, every time the poor animal moves. 

Cats don’t tend to run off into the wilderness. In the city, it’s more likely a roaming cat will get trapped inside an abandoned building or sneak through a hole in the roof of a garage and not be able to jump back out. In these cases, an AirTag would be purrfect. 

Should You Track Pets With AirTags?

The pet-accessory market already thinks that you will want to attach an AirTag to your dog. 

"Manufacturers of dog collars are now offering replacements that can be used with AirTags. Classic leather collars, V-Buckle collars, and more are available," says Avallone.

Pet Tag AirTag holder for a pet collar.
Pet Tag AirTag holder for a pet collar by NormaJeanDesignsLLC on


Practically speaking, though, it all depends. AirTags are useless if you take your dog on long walks in the wilderness. But in cities and municipal parks, where there are enough iOS users around to pick up the signal, AirTags are ideal.

It’s easy to make an informed decision, though. In towns and cities, AirTags will work great. If you’re often away from civilization with your dog, you probably need the GPS/cellular option.

But if you are frequently completely off the grid, outside cellular coverage, then perhaps you might go back to AirTags. After all, if your best friend does make it back to civilization weeks or months later, then the battery in the AirTag will still be running.

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