Sportdog Fieldtrainer 400 Review

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

Sport Dog SD-400 Reviews

by Geoffrey English

Field Test Ratings
Design 4
Durability 3.5
Ease of Use / Instructions 5
Performance 5
Size / Weight 5
Overall Rating 4.5
Favorite Features:
Size / Weight of the Unit

If you have read other sport dog 400 reviews you will find that this collar is an economical, short range electronic dog collar to do basic obedience and yard work, then the SportDOG SD 400 or SD 400S might be the system for you.  For under $175 you get a lot of bang for your buck. The SD-400 and SD-400S have many features which rival that of the more expensive collars.  For example, both collars offer continuous and momentary stimulation, as well as tone.  SportDOG currently offers a Two Year Warranty on parts and labor.  The remaining portion of this Sport Dog Fieldtrainer 400 review will focus on  each component of the system. 

So what is the difference between an SD-400 and SD-400S?
The main difference between the SD-400 and SD-400S collars is that the SD-400S (Stubborn Model) comes programmed at all levels to operate at a "higher" level of intensity than the SD-400 (Standard Model),  which makes it a better choice if you have a stubborn breed of dog.  You can think of it this way -  level one on the SD-400S  would be similar to level 2 on the SD-400. If you are an avid hunter you might want to consider the SD-400 Camo version. 

One other difference is that the collar strap for the SD-400 is orange and the collar strap for the SD-400S is black.  The camo version (SportDOG SD-400 Wetland Hunter) comes in a Realtree Advantage Max4 pattern. 
SportDOG boasts a range of 400 yards for the SD-400 and SD-400S.  Keep in mind; this is line of sight (which is what all manufacturers quote).  If there is anything between you and the dog, your effective range will vary.  We have tested the system and found that the collars operate effectively out to about 250-300 yards under moderate conditions (weather, terrain, cover, etc), which is why we recommend this collar for folks looking for a system to do basic obedience and yard work.  If you are looking for a system with more range than you would be better served with the SportDOG SD800.

SportDOG SD-400 Collar
Photo by: Author
The transmitter is very small (3.2 oz) and can easily be worn on a lanyard around your neck.  The comfortable "soft coat" transmitter finish makes this unit a pleasure to handle. The transmitter is also 100% waterproof and submergible which makes it suitable for training outdoors, even in foul weather.  The intensity dial of the SportDOG SD-400 is located in the top right-hand corner of the unit, making it extremely ergonomic for right-hand users.  However, left-hand users may have a more difficult time operating the unit in their dominate hand, as the face of the unit will be facing away from them.

Collar Receiver
The collar receiver is also extremely small (4.8 oz) making it one of the smallest on the market and a great choice for smaller breeds.  The unit is turned on by simply pressing the on/off button located on base of the unit. The collar receiver contains an internal antenna which is protected by a rugged plastic molded case built to withstand most hunting conditions. The receiver is also 100% waterproof and submergible. The dimensions of the receiver are as follows: 1 1/2" wide x 2 1/2" long x 1 1/4" thick. The receiver is secured to a 3/4 inch strap that will fit dogs with necks up to 23". 

Both the transmitter and the collar offer user replaceable, rechargeable NiMH batteries - SD-400 replacement collar battery and  SD-400 replacement transmitter battery. You can expect to see 3+ years out of the batteries with proper care. Both the transmitter and the collar offer a "Low Battery Indicator" to let you know when your system needs to be recharged.  The batteries come partially charged from the factory, but will require a full charge of 24 hours before initial use. Subsequent recharges take only 12 hours. The receiver Indicator Light flashes after 12 hours of charging indicating that it is fully charged.  You can expect to get as much as 45 hours on a single charge -- depending on how often you are using corrections. 

What comes in the package? 

  • Collar Receiver
  • Transmitter
  • SportDOG Owner's Manual / Operating Guide
  • Orange collar strap (for the SD-400) or Black collar strap (for the SD-400S)
  • User Replaceable, Rechargeable batteries (both collar and transmitter)
  • Dual lead battery charger
  • Lanyard for the transmitter
  • Test Light

SportDOG SD-400 Transmitter
Photo by: Author

One more thing:
No Sport Dog Fieldtrainer 400 review would be complete if it didn't warn you about the manufacturers boiler-plate product description.  Upon further close examination you will notice the words "up to...” appearing a number of times in their description of the SD-400.  If you're like me, whenever I hear the phrase "up to" I become somewhat skeptical about what I am reading.  Maybe it's just me or maybe I have been burned so many times in the past that those words just resonate with me.   There are a couple things I want to clarify before you go reach for your wallet.  First, let me clarify what "expandable up to 3 dogs" and "up to 16 levels of momentary and continuous stimulation" means.   Let’s take each one of these in turn.

Expandable up to 3 Dogs
The SportDOG SD-400 Manual claims that the SD-400 is expandable up to 3 dogs -- which is true... kind of...  but, not without losing functionality.  Let me explain.  The SD-400 is shipped programmed to have each one of the buttons on the face of the unit operate the collar receiver.  From the factory the top button is programmed to send continuous stimulation to the dog, the bottom button is programmed to send momentary stimulation to the collar receiver and the button on the side of the unit will make the collar receiver issue a non-electrical form of stimulation called tone.  So each button issues a different type of stimulation to the collar.  When you add an additional collar (SportDOG Brand SD-400 Add-A-Dog collars) you are required to program the system to Mode 4 which means each buttons controls a single dog collar and the only type of stimulation you have is CONTINOUS, which is fine for folks that don't care if the collar effectively becomes a single type of correction collar. 

Up to 16 Levels of Continuous and Momentary Stimulation
This is another one of those "can be programmed to operate that way" but not without losing functionality.  As I explained earlier, the SD-400 is shipped from the factory so that each button on the unit is used to control the collar receiver.  From the factory the top button is programmed to send 8 levels of continuous stimulation to the dog, the bottom button is programmed to send 8 levels of momentary stimulation to the collar receiver and the button on the side of the unit will make the collar receiver issue a non-electrical form of stimulation called tone.  In order for the system to send 16 levels of stimulation to the collar receiver it needs to be programmed to do so.  This is actually a fairly easy task.  But you need to program the system to “Mode 5 or 6”. 

"Mode 5" allows the top button to issue continuous stimulation with the intensity level set to the high end of the intensity dial and the bottom button will issue continuous stimulation  with the intensity level set  to the low end of the intensity dial.  This effectively makes your system have high and low stimulation for each of the 8 intensity dial settings.  The side button will remain the “tone only” button when you program your system to "Mode 5".  So the only downside to this mode is that you effectively lose momentary stimulation. 

“Mode 6” is the same as “Mode 5” however the side button is used to issue momentary stimulation at the level that your intensity dial is set and you no longer have the “tone only” feature. 

SD-400 Accessories
Photo by: Author

SportDOG Sd-400 Review - Overall Rating:
Overall for the price point, the SportDOG SD 400 and SD 400S are hard collars to beat - especially if the user never intends on owning multiple dogs.  

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