One of the most prolific internet phrases: best vacuum for pet hair'. Yes, as much as we love our fur babies, there’s one guarantee that pet ownership brings: a house full of hair. And to tackle that, we need an appliance that's built for the job.
From the shaggiest of dogs to short-haired cats, all of our beloved companions shed throughout the year, leaving a sizeable problem for those that don’t have one of the best vacuums for pet hair.
It’s a specialist challenge, as pet vacuum cleaners need to be able to suck up hair from hard floors, extract walked-in fur from carpets and rugs, and provide a safe way to clean up prized couches and chairs. Ideally, they need to do this with one eye on reducing allergies, too.
In this guide, we’re bringing you our top recommendations for pet vacuum cleaners. No two homes are the same, so our list contains a wide range of products to suit all needs, whether you need a grab-and-go for quick clean-ups or a more powerful plug-in model for dealing with long-haired pets that like to shed.
See more: the best cordless vacuum cleaners – our top models
How do I choose a vacuum cleaner for pet hair?
Pet hair is a rather specialist item to suck up and get rid of with any deal of efficiency, so you’ll typically need a cleaner with the right types of accessories, rather than raw power, as such.
For dealing with carpets or rugs, this means a motorized brush bar, which uses rigid bristles to agitate and loosen hair so that it can be sucked up into the bin.
For hard floors, having pure suction flow through the cleaner makes more sense for hair, but look out for a cleaner that has a soft brush, designed to pick up pet dander and microscopic bits of dust first.
Tools for dealing with pet hair around the house are just as important. A mini motorized brush can be your best friend, giving you the same qualities as a floor brush in a smaller package that can help clean up pet beds and upholstery with ease.
Any motorized tool with tangle-free technology is worth looking for, as you won’t have to worry about cleaning the tools so often.
Otherwise, look out for regular accessories (dusting brushes, crevice tools and so on) for getting into those hard-to-reach areas and removing all traces of pet hair from your home.
While power isn’t the most important aspect, vacuum cleaners designed for pet hair tend to be at the more powerful end of the spectrum, particularly for plug-in models. Typically, these cleaners have a 1500W or higher motor.
You’ll have a choice between cordless and plug-in models. Generally speaking, plug-in models, as discussed above, will give you a deeper and more thorough clean, but the trade-off is a large and more unwieldy cleaner.
A cordless cleaner doesn’t quite have the same level of power, but can do a great job with the right accessories designed for pet hair removal. As cordless cleaners are lighter and easier to move around, you’ll more likely use them more often, too. Regular, targeted cleaning can be just as, if not more effective as a weekly deep clean.
Best vacuum cleaners for pet hair 2021
When it comes to ease of use and power, nothing comes close to the Dyson V11 Animal. It can be used with the floor head for traditional upright cleaning, or in handheld mode for getting into those hard-to-reach areas. Thanks to the latest V11 motor, this is a cordless cleaner that has the power of a plug-in model.
It’s the smart tech that sets this machine apart, with the High Torque cleaning head (designed for carpets and hard floors) using sensors to adjust vacuum power to suit the floor type automatically.
Even better, there’s an LCD screen at the rear that gives you the current battery life in minutes and even shows you handy videos, such as how to clean the filter should suction drop.
It’s easy enough to remove and clean the filter at the rear, but a bit trickier to disassemble the filter inside the bin.
Dyson promises 99.97 per cent filtration, which is great for allergy sufferers and has a clever eject system for the sizeable 0.2-gallon bin, so you get the mess out without the cloud of dust.
For getting into fiddly areas and dealing with upholstery, you get a mini motorized tool (great for pet hair on stairs and upholstery), combination tool, crevice tool and a stubborn dirt tool. There’s enough storage for most of these, with two clips on the wall-mounted charging dock that the V11 hangs from and one on the cleaner’s wand.
With up to 60-minutes of run time and exceptional performance and pet hair removal on all surfaces, the V11 can cope with pretty much any cleaning job. Only the option of a second battery (available on the larger V11 Outsize) for an extended run time would make this cleaner even better.
With the Shark APEX Upright, you can largely say goodbye to hair wrapping around the floor brush. With Shark’s Zero-M tech, the bristles on the roller are designed like a comb to help hair get sucked up rather than tangled. It works well for strands of hair, but user reviews warn that you can get tangles with clumps of hair or clippings.
In addition to the brush, the floor head also gives you a smooth roller for dealing with hard floors.
This 11-inch wide floor head makes it quick to deal with large areas, and you get a slider control to set the power level for hard floor, short-pile and deep-pile carpet. It’s a relatively easy vacuum to push around, although the bulk of cleaner means it’s not as manoeuvrable as some.
A powerful upright cleaner with tonnes of suction thanks to its 1350-watt motor, the large APEX can deal with any amount of mess and is ideal for homes with pets that shed a lot.
For more delicate jobs and precision cleaning, there’s Lift-Away mode. This lets you pop out the main cylinder and bin, leaving you with a smaller, more nimble cleaner and hose for getting under furniture and into tight spaces. With an upholstery tool and 12-inch crevice tool (both stored on the vacuum’s body), you get the basics for detail cleaning.
Once full, the bin lifts out the front and is cleanly emptied via the flap at the bottom. You can clean the whole lot out, too, once it gets quite dirty. It’s just as simple to clean to the two HEPA filters.
If you need the power of a plug-in upright with the flexibility of a cordless cleaner, look no further.
With the Dyson Ball Animal 2, the company has solved how you make a supremely powerful vacuum cleaner extremely easy to push around.
Thanks to the ball underneath, this upright can be steered at speed easily, darting around furniture and between chair legs. Yet, it’s powered by the company’s most powerful motor delivering a staggering 305AW of power.
The floor head automatically adjusts its height to match the surface you’re vacuuming, although some people complain that the suction power makes this cleaner hard to push on carpet. There are no complaints about how well this cleaner removes pet hair and other mess, though.
For detail work, the hose removes and you can use the provided accessories: a combination tool (crevice tool and brush), stair tool, and the tangle-free turbine tool, which is brilliant for pets beds and upholstery. It’s a shame that there’s only storage for one tool on the vacuum’s body.
The bin removes easily from the front, letting you eject dust without making a mess. And, thanks to the washable HEPA filter, the Animal 2 is certified asthma and allergy-friendly, too.
If you’re after a large, heavyweight vacuum cleaner that’s great for allergy sufferers, the Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog Vacuum Cleaner could well be for you.
With its massive 4.22 gallon bags that self-seal on removal and provide additional filtration, this is a cleaner that’s great for allergy sufferers, as you remove and throw away everything. Of course, the downside is that replacement bags are a fairly hefty investment.
The U1 is one of the largest vacuum cleaners you can buy, with 23lb weight. Although it rolls well and pivots, lying the cleaner almost flat to get under couches needs some strength.
Fortunately, the hose and wand come off the back, letting you use the crevice tool and small turbo brush for smaller areas; the latter is particularly useful for dealing with pet beds and upholstery.
There’s a 45ft cleaning radius with this model, so you won’t need to keep swapping power sockets as you make your way around the house. Suction power is incredible, thanks to the 1500W motor, so cleaning across the board, not just for pet hair, is exceptional.
There are more flexible cleaners, but few this large and powerful, and the U1 is a great choice where a bag is a preference.
A lot of vacuum cleaning is about having the right accessories for the job, and the Tineco Pure One S12 doesn’t disappoint on this front.
You get two motorized floor brushes (one for carpet, one for hard floor), a 2-in-1 dusting brush, a mini power brush (great for pet beds), crevice tool, soft dusting brush, extension hose, angled adaptor (to clean on tops of cupboards) and a flexible crevice tool.
If that’s not enough, there’s also a clever pre-filter cleaning tool that uses vacuum power to remove dirt (the rear HEPA filter has to be cleaned with water).
The wall charging dock only has storage for three smaller tools so you’ll need a good amount of room for everything else.
With two batteries in the box (both of which can be charged at the same time), you can have up to 100-minutes of run-time - more than enough for most homes.
There’s a smart AI mode (iLoop) that detects when there’s dirt and adjusts power on the fly, but it’s not always very accurate, so you can override and choose your own power mode.
The neat screen at the back shows you battery life, and has a colored ring around the outside: it’s red when there’s dirt and turns blue to show you when you’ve finished cleaning.
It also has a smartphone app, although connecting this to the vacuum cleaner doesn’t give you anything particularly useful.
Performance lags behind the Dyson V11, with Pure One S12 taking a few more sweeps to clean up, but the range of accessories you get means that this cleaner is far more flexible.
If you’re going to use removable batteries, it makes a lot of financial sense if they can work in lots of devices. That’s what you get with the large Hoover ONEPWR range, which covers everything from leaf blowers and carpet cleaners to the Evolve Pet Cordless Upright Vacuum.
As the name suggests, this works and acts like a regular upright cleaner, only there’s no power cord to worry about. Although relatively light at 8.6lb, Hoover says that this cleaner feels more like a 2lb vacuum when you push it around, with the weight towards the bottom of the cleaner.
This design gives the ONEPWR Evolve Pet a nimbleness and degree of flexibility that could suit those that don’t want a heavier machine. Even better, the vacuum stands up by itself: something few cordless models can do.
The downside of the design is that there’s no hose or accessory for detail cleaning, so this is cleaner strictly for floors, with three operating modes to suit all types of carpet and hard floor.
Thanks to the 20V battery, you get excellent suction, and the floor head has an antimicrobial brush roll and pet filter that cuts down on nasty odors.
You can buy additional batteries (or borrow from other ONEPWR tools) to extend runtime. It’s a shame that the battery can’t be charge in-situ for ease of use, though.
The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum is that grab-and-go cleaner, such as cleaning up a couch before you sit on it. While many spot cleaners have simple attachments, this one is built for animals, with the self-cleaning pet power brush that can make short work of pet beds and upholstery.
As with Shark’s larger cleaners, the self-cleaning brush is designed to prevent hair getting wrapped around the roller, but be careful when using it on large clumps of hair. You also get a scrubbing brush and crevice tool in the box, although there’s no storage inside.
There’s just an on/off switch, making the UltraCyclone easy to use. The 10.8V battery can provide similar cleaning power to a regular vacuum, although you only get 15-minutes on a charge and have to wait six hours for a full charge.
There’s a small bin, but it’s easy to empty and large enough for spot cleaning. Once removed, you can rinse the bin and filter under a tap to keep it all clean.
If you’re regularly reaching for a larger vacuum to clean up pet hair, the Shark UltraCyclone could well be your grab-and-go friend for smaller jobs.
Dyson has worn the crown of cordless vacuum cleaners for years, and the V11 Torque is no exception. The British company’s flagship dirt sucker packs in a total of 14 cyclones generating 185 air watts of suction when cranked up to max. In plain English, that means it's more than powerful enough to pick up stubborn dirt and clingy pet hair.
In addition to its raw power, it’s got the brains to match too, thanks to Dynamic Load Sensing technology which cleverly adjusts the vacuum to the type of surface you’re on, which also helps maximize the battery’s efficiency. Dyson states that you can squeeze out up to an hour of cleaning on a single charge, depending on the area being cleaned and what power setting is used.
A built-in LCD screen lets you keep on top of what cleaning mode you’re on - Eco, Auto and Max - as well as providing maintenance information, such as a blockage that needs clearing. The only main downside is that the dock won’t hold all of the additional attachments, but that’s where drawers come in, we suppose.
It’s expensive, sure, but brilliantly designed, super powerful, and looks stylish to boot. Want the best? Look no further.
What’s the point of living in a tech-packed future if you don’t have a robot to do your dirty work for you? This robot vacuum cleaner is one of the best performing ones around, and is more than capable of picking up stubborn pet hair that’s littered across your floor.
It’s long 100 minute run time should be more than enough to tackle your abode while you’re out and about doing something more fun, and it’s capable of recharging itself and continuing the job if it does happen to run out of steam during a clean.
Infrared sensors avoid any accidental collisions with furniture and/or cats, and its slim profile means it can travel underneath furniture too, for a more thorough clean.
The only main downsides are the fact that you’ll have to empty its small capacity bin often, and it might also scare your pets, depending on their temperament, while you’re away. If that’s not an issue for you though, then this is a great choice for automatic, daily supplemental cleaning.
Are HEPA filter vacuums worth it?
When sucking up dust and pet hair, it’s not what you can see that can cause irritation and allergic reactions, but the microscopic dust that you can’t.
Pet dander, for example, are microscopic skin cells shed from animals that cause reactions in people with allergies.
HEPA filters are designed and rated to prevent these particles from escaping the vacuum cleaner, sealing in the dirt that’s collected. This is very important in a pet vacuum cleaner, particularly if anyone in the house (or a regular visitor) has sensitivities to your animals.
Are bagless or bagged vacuums better for allergies?
As discussed above, a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters is what you need if you have allergy sufferers, keeping the microscopic irritants sealed inside the dust bin. However, the big issue is what happens when you empty a vacuum.
For bagless cleaners, emptying has to be done with care, as opening the bin can create a cloud of dust, releasing smaller particles back into the air, causing issues for those with allergies.
Bagged vacuum cleaners have an extra level of protection, as the bags act as both additional filters to prevent particle escape, but you also remove and throw away the dirt without exposing it to fresh air. Look for a cleaner that has self-sealing bags for the best results.
As such, bagged vacuum cleaners are often easier to deal with for households where members are very sensitive to allergens.
That doesn’t make bagless cleaners a poor choice, though: just be careful how and where you empty the vacuum’s bin. To prevent the spreading of allergens, a vacuum bin should be ejected either down, directly into a larger internal bin or, for additional safety, emptied in the same way into an outside bin.
Would I be better off with a corded vac for pet hair?
Corded vacuums tend to be more powerful than cordless vacuums, with the additional benefit of never running out of power. They’re still a solid choice for large homes, as you’ll never suffer from ‘range anxiety’ and running out of power.
They tend to be much bigger and bulkier though, which can be a pain when it comes to easily and quickly tending to a room. We can’t speak for everyone, but for most people, and especially those in apartments, cordless vacuum cleaners have evolved to a point where they’re more than powerful enough to take care of tough pet hair, while remaining light and nimble enough to not make the process a tiring and frustrating one.