The dog tracker market in the US has two real main players, Fi & Whistle.
I’ve tested both the Whistle Switch and the Fi Series 2 collar pretty extensively by now, and have written reviews on them both. So, now comes the big question of which of these two collars is better?
As always it’s not quite that simple, is it?
Both offer different features and come in at significantly different price points these days, and whilst they both offer dog tracking, they both have more unique features.
So, which one tracks better?
From my experience, the Fi series 2 is a better tracker, I find it notifies me first about a potential problem, and it’s more immediate. I think it’s slightly personal preference, but it’s not a significant difference in this area, if I’m honest.
Both have very flexible Geofencing that works really well too. Though Fi’s may be more difficult to set up because it doesn’t scale nicely for some reason.
Both Devices use AT&T, so the signal should not vary from one to the other. But, the difference with Fi comes from the fact that it works on the LTE-M network, whilst whistle uses LTE. That means that the Fi device reaches 30% further than it’s competitor.
Whilst that’s the sales info, that’s not necessarily information I’ve experienced first hand. I’ve never had an issue with either device and losing signal – and for reference I’m based in quite rural Maryland.
There is a significant size difference. In the image above you can see how the whistle switch sits mainly inside the collar. It’s a large size, and it makes it quite intrusive – and easy to mistake for an ecollar too.
The weight is different, but it’s very hard to get a proper understanding of the weight comparison, because the collar on the switch is not removable, the best reads I’ve gotten on them is:
Whistle Switch: 52g
Fi Series 2: 47g (including collar links)
First, it’s good to note that I’ve minimised the notifications on Fi, and now I get 1 message a day around 9pm that says “Shelby met her goal for the 455th day”. I used to get ones about blog posts, and new makers and all sorts that was just too much! It did irritate me at the start because these notifications were heart attack inducing thinking my dogs had left home without me.
I’ve optimised on Whistle too, and I get probably two alerts a day – but importantly – they’re at random times because they’re when Shelby hits her activity goal and doubles her activity goal (typically).
That randomness does mean it’s kind of become desensitized to Whistle’s alerts, so I might not notice so much if one of the girls were to leave a safezone. However, these alerts can be turned off if desired, but I kind of like knowing how their day is shaping up.
Whistle also offers reminders for regular dog events to be programmed into the app, these can be anything from a claw trim, to regular medications. This is complimentary to what I think Whistle have shot for in this device, aka making it an all-encompassing dog health monitor.
And this is the big distinction between the collars:
Whistle is a health system for your dog with a tracker.
Fi is a tracker with a bit of a health system involved.
The Fi unit has an integral battery, and after a year, we did notice one of our two deteriorate.
Whilst I love the interchangeable batter the whistle switch offers, I definitely think the battery life on the Fi series 2 is longer. Now, we do have our homes set up well with wifi and two base units, so it will depend on how much time your dog spends away from you, or off of a network – which conserves battery life for Fi.
So, for you this might be different depending on your wifi set up, and how much land you have, etc. You may prefer the Whistle Switch if you’re around less wifi.
I like the Fi app, because it allows me to see patterns much more easily, though, the whistle app definitely gives you a better overview of a day to day as it gives the sleep info in the same tab and breaks it all down. Yet, for me? I find the weekly overview very, very useful.
Both have comparable annual costs of $99 for full services, but the big clincher is the cost of the device. The Whistle Switch is currently up for $179, vs the Fi series 2 which is $49. With $120 in the price, can you honestly say that the few extra features the Whistle Switch offers are worth it?
This is a surprisingly large factor when comparing these two devices.
First? The collars cannot be exchanged on the whistle switch. Which means that the security provided by the whistle switch collar is moderated, and slightly compromised in security by plastic attachments to the device.
That compares enormously to the Fi Series 2, where there are third party makers for a fi collar, and for fi compatible harnesses!
Then, I have a sizeable safety concern with the standard collar on the whistle switch which comes in the form of a buckle. That buckle has to be tightened before it can be removed. If your dog ever gets into a situation where they’re hung up with the collar, or they’re in a situation where their leash is snagged, then the collar must be tightened further to remove it.
That’s a pretty huge safety concern to me, as I’ll always recommend a pinch clip.
Each collar is different, each collar works in slightly different ways. So, it’s quite normal that each offers different features that work with that. Let’s look at those briefly.
Whistle Offers Better Health Info
Whistle switch offers a weekly update on your dogs health, and monitors activity, scratching, drinking, licking, eating, and sleeping. In comparison, Fi won’t email you about that, and all they track is activity and sleep.
Whistle tracks this and creates a baseline for your dog. This is not generic data.
Fi Offers Community
One of the things that I really like about Fi (though it does have its drawbacks…) is the fact that Fi has a rankings page, which allows you to compare your dog to others of the same breed, in the state, or all Fi dogs. This is pretty cool when you can see how your dog ranks compared to the others.
However, this does come with the problem that I have seen owners competing over these. Which… when you’re talking about young puppies with over a million steps in a month? Causes me huge concern for these dogs from a health and training point of view.
So, Whistle Switch or Fi Series 2 Collar?
The big question! For me, it’s the Fi Series 2. But I wanted a tracker. I wanted insight into behaviour second. And that is more appropriate for the Fi collar. And given the price difference, it works perfectly for what I wanted it for and is a much cheaper option.
If instead you’re looking for a health monitor for your dog as the primary function and the GPS is just a bonus? Then the Whistle Switch is the product for you. It’s solid, it’s clever and it’s much more insight into your dog. If you’re concerned about your dogs health, this will help you monitor it.
If you need help choosing the right equipment for your dog, why not check out more rebarkable gear reviews?
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!