Best Vacuum for Pet Hair: Your Ultimate Guide, Comparison & Review
Last updated on April 30th, 2018 by Garrick Dee
In a previous article, I’ve already discussed the best cordless vacuums for pet hair. But I just realized that list was lacking in other great options.
So I’ve decide to create a new one just to give you more options. You’ll find a list of different types of vacuums from uprights, canisters to handheld all of which capable of cleaning pet hair.
If you own any pet at home, be it a dog, cat, bird or whatever animal, one of the biggest challenges would be cleaning up pet hair that these creatures shed.
Dog owners in particular will struggle with hair shed on different parts of their home. I’ve dogs but I don’t love the pet hair. You’ll find them on the sofa, bed, carpet, bathroom, just about anywhere your dog goes to expect pet hair to follow.
If you have an army of them running around, you’ll need a tool to keep hair in check.
This tool is a vacuum cleaner. It’s the first line of defense against allergens from pet hair, ticks, litter or food pets may leave behind.
It’ll keep your family healthy and safe because you’ll be cleaning regularly and your home will be much cleaner.
This guide will help guide you in buying a vacuum that will meet your specific needs.
Vacuums featured in this guide…
- Dyson Big Ball Animal (read review)
- Bissell 1650A Pet Hair Eraser Upright (read review)
- Miele C3 Cat & Dog (read review)
- Shark Rotator Powered Lift Away Canister NR96 (read review)
- Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH (read review)
- Dyson V8 Absolute (read review)
- Hoover Linx Stick (read review)
To help you with this article I’ve created a table of contents section…
- How to choose a vacuum for pet hair?
- Upright Vacuums for Pet Hair
- Canister Vacuums for Pet Hair
- Handheld Vacuums for Pet Hair
- Stick Vacuums for Pet Hair
- To Wrap Up
You can’t use just any vacuum to clean pet hair. It will bog down and you’ll spend more time cleaning up the brush roll instead on focusing on the task at hand.
Most “standard” vacuums have a brush roll, hose and just enough power to pick up loose dirt. But when cleaning pet hair, you’ll need something with specialized tools and enough power suck up hair off fabric upholstery or carpet that’s often the toughest areas to clean.
Powerful motor and stiff bristles
A default option that a salesman would recommend you is a vacuum with a motorized brush.
Carefully inspect this part and make sure that the bristles are stiff.
Soft bristles will not provide enough agitation to completely pick up pet hair on areas like carpet.
It’ll just push it aside and not pick any at all.
Or it’ll lack suction to pull the hair out of the motorize brush and you’ll spend more time cleaning up the brush roll than vacuuming.
Stiff bristles will do a better job in terms of picking up these up.
Pair that up with a powerful motor and it’ll go inside the bin and not stay on the brush roll.
Another feature to look at is HEPA filtration. These filters have smaller holes that trap finer pieces of dirt such as allergens.
This feature is a must have if you suffer from any sort of condition like asthma.
The downside for these filters is you’ll have to replace them once or twice a year depending on how many pets you have.
Some manufacturers like Dyson have washable HEPA filters that will last the lifetime of the machine.
Bagged or Bagless
Whether or not to buy something with a bag would depend on your sensitivity to dust and pollens. Bagged vacuums are great because it’s not messy at all to empty the bag.
When it’s full just open the bin, pull out the bag and throw it away.
No mess, no fuss. But bags do cost money and it adds up over time. The cost of these bags would depend on the brand you choose.
If you want to know more about the difference between these two features, I’ve written a comprehensive guide so please take some time and read it.
A hose helps extend the functionality of vacuums to areas above the floor. Most new uprights have hoses that detach from the frame. The longer the hose the better the reach and the more area it’ll be able to clean.
Full sized uprights weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.
If you’re weak or have mobility issues, a vacuum this heavy isn’t an option. A lightweight vacuum would be a better option.
It’s hard to measure durability just by reading at the features. A good indicator would be consumer reviews.
If you see a lot of complaints about major issues that are consistent, you may want to avoid that product.
Another overlooked feature would be the warranty. A longer warranty brings you better peace of mind because if something goes wrong just send the product back.
Miele have 7 year warranty to most of their upright vacuums. While Dyson and Shark back their products up with a 5 year warranty.
Newer Bissell uprights (particularly their pet hair series vacuums) now have a 5 year warranty.
If you buy from Amazon you can also purchase an extended warranty on top of these.
There are lots of brands in the market that claim to tackle pet hair. Most will claim that their products will clean up pet hair and make your life easy. But the reality is a lot of these are just marketing rubbish and what they claim will not match to real world performance.
While I won’t recommend just looking at the brand alone, here are some of the best…
Bissell is one of the pioneers in the vacuum industry and have been in this business over 100 years.
If you’re considering this brand then look at their “Pet Hair Eraser” series. They have a full range of products that range from uprights, handhelds to carpet cleaners. All these products will work well picking up pet hair.
James Dyson invented the bagless vacuum even it took him more than 5,000 tries.
They are now starting a new trend – going filter-less with the Cinetic Technology. These are available in their upright and canister vacuum line.
Miele comes from the same country that produced the Mercedes Benz which is Germany. Is it as over engineered as the Mercedes? Maybe but their name is synonymous with high quality products and great filtration. They specialized in bagged vacuums with careful thought on how it filters allergens.
They have a “cat & dog” series line specifically designed to clean pet hair. Don’t limit yourself to this but it is a good starting point if you choose to take a close look.
Don’t sleep on Hoover. They offer great options with their multi-functional cordless upright vacuums. Hoover recently launched their “REACT” series – a line of upright vacuums that will deep clean pet hair from carpet.
Shark is one of my favorite brands because of their innovative “Lift Away” and “DuoClean” features that extend the functionality of their uprights without sacrificing cleaning performance.
How big is your home?
It’s important to match the type of vacuum you’ll buy to the size of your home.
For larger homes you’ll need a large vacuum with a large enough bin to store dirt without you having to constantly making trips to the bin.
An upright would be an ideal choice because these machines have the most power and agitation. Modern uprights like the Shark DuoClean NV803 even coverts to a canister for above floor cleaning.
Also try to get something with at least a 30 foot power cord so you don’t have to constantly look for an outlet to plug into.
Size wouldn’t be an issue because you’ll have lots of storage anyways.
For smaller homes like an apartment obviously you’ll need something more compact for storage reasons. A stick vacuum would be a good option because these won’t require as much storage space. But still have enough power to pick up pet hair.
Some cordless vacuums may come in handy in these situations like a Dyson V8 because it will not only do floors but also upholstery, stairs and everything in between. At over $500 it isn’t cheap but a good investment if you can afford buying one.
Handhelds also come in handy inside really small homes or as a tool to clean upholstery or stairs.
Will You Vacuum Carpet, Hard floors, Stairs or Upholstery?
The type of surface you’ll be cleaning will help determine the type of vacuum you’ll choose.
For example, if your home has wall to wall carpeting then an ideal option would be something with enough power and agitation to deep clean.
Hardwood won’t require as much agitation because there are no fibers that block the pathway to dirt. But homes with old school hardwood with deep cracks will need something with good power to pick up dirt trapped under those cracks.
Don’t forget the “extras” for cleaning upholstery, vents, curtains or inside your vehicle
Higher end brands like Shark and Dyson have loads of tools specifically designed to clean certain parts of your home and even inside your vehicle.
Do you have any preference?
Would you prefer an upright, canister, stick or handheld?
Uprights by default have the most power but these tools often are the heaviest so it’ll not be always the best choice for the job.
A good rule of thumb is choosing an upright for larger homes and a canister, stick or handheld for smaller homes. But like what I’ve said there are uprights that can function as a canister so don’t forget those options.
Upright vacuums are great for large homes because these have the longest power cords and the largest bins.
Good brands like Dyson, Shark and Miele offer the best power and agitation that can deep clean carpet.
Canister vacuums offer better versatility and maneuverability because these have hoses and interchangeable tools but at the expense of a shorter power cord and smaller bin. So it may not be a good option for large homes.
It can be a secondary machine that will clean stairs and upholstery. You can also use it as a primary cleaner inside smaller homes like condominiums or apartments.
Stick vacuums offer the same functionality as an upright but with less power and agitation. It also has a smaller bin that won’t hold as much dirt.
Some brands like Bissell over 2-in-1 functionality that morphs the stick into a handheld. But these often times lack power.
Hand held vacuums are the lightest and have the most maneuverability. And cordless handhelds are the most portable because you can take these anywhere.
Look for these different attachments
Most people ignore these tools but these are very important in cleaning tight areas or above the floors surfaces.
These extend the functionality of the vacuum and make life much easier in terms of cleaning.
An upholstery tool has a motorized brush designed to deep clean upholstery and carpet. Some use a different form of agitation like rubberized heads with ribs or velco-like strips.
Most brands use the same design but there are brands like Dyson that utilize a different solution that’s much more effective.
Helps you clean tight areas like crevices thanks to its thin design. These are great for cleaning areas between cushions or baseboards.
You’ll find this tool in canister vacuums and some stick vacuums like the Dyson V6 or Shark Rocket. This device extends reach and you can use a different attachment on it depending on the need.
This helps in cleaning up dust on flat surfaces or areas with lots of tight spots like a keyboard or vent.
Motorized brush / brush roll
A motorized brush refers to a device with bristles whose main purpose is to agitate dirt on carpet.
It won’t be as effective on hard floors because dirt already exposed on this surface. So some manufacturers like Dyson and Shark now utilize a soft roller brush that it.
Hard floor brush tool
These tools come in handy on tile surfaces or hardwood for cleaning fine dust particles. You can find this mostly on canister vacuums and some uprights.
Mini motorized brush / power nozzle / power brush
Whatever the term manufacturers use, these tools have the same and function – to clean fabric upholstery or stairs. Some have their own motor that provides better agitation while others only rely on air for the brush to spin.
Mattress tools may vary. Some have motorized brushes while others have a wide base with textured surfaces for agitation.
Angled brush tool
An angled brush tool has pivoting points that bend at varying angles. These help clean high areas like the ceiling fans or high above cabinets.
How much are you willing to spend?
This should be one of the first considerations when something to clean pet hair. Remember not to skimp here because we’re talking about a tool that’ll help keep the environment you live in clean.
You can set a hard cap (e.g. you aren’t willing to go over $150) or a more flexible range (e.g. between $50 and $100).
A decent vacuum for carpet can cost anywhere between $120 and $350. Those include cordless options. Anything over $350 would be a luxury in my opinion.
Consider this an investment and not an expense
Spending a little bit more isn’t a bad thing because higher end brands use better quality materials.
Better raw materials equates to a longer lasting product. And these will perform better which is the bottom line why you buy these products.
If you buy a cheap product what happens is it prematurely breaks. You’ll spend more in the long haul buying cheap products over and over.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal
When it comes to suction and agitation, Dyson is hard to beat. And now they are going filter-less with the Cinetic Science system that oscillate to prevent microscopic dust from clogging.
Out of all the Cinetic variants this is my favorite cause it’s “reasonably” priced if you call something almost $450 reasonable.
It comes with just enough tools – in particular the tangle-free turbine tool that’s invaluable on fabric upholstery and mattresses.
Compared to the Animal + Allergy that costs around $200, this one is a bargain.
It has the same 180 watt motor, 35 foot power cord and 0.57 gallon bin. So you’re getting the same product for much less. You’ll get fewer tools but the tools that matters for me would be the tangle-free turbine.
If you’re looking for a deep cleaning upright inside a large home this would be a great option. The self-adjusting cleaning head ensures that the cleaning head stays in contact with the floor.
This is important when cleaning carpet because it ensures a full seal for deep cleaning.
What we like about this product?
- Great suction and agitation
- The tangle-free turbine tool is one of the best pet hair cleaning attachments invented
- HEPA filter that’s washable
- Decent sized bin and power cord
- Long 5 year warranty
- Great for deep cleaning carpet
- This vacuum is heavy
- Not as maneuverable as other brands like the Shark and Oreck
- Long term viability of the filter-less system is a concern
- Make sure to have enough room to store this giant
Bottom line: Dyson Cinetic is one of the best options if you’re looking for a tool that’ll deep clean pet hair from carpet. It’s got the power and agitation to do the job and is capable of cleaning pet hair off fabric upholstery if you need to.
If the Cinetic is too expensive then take a step down and go with a Dyson Ball Animal.
This was Dyson’s previous top of the line upright before the Cinetic came out.
And this actually has more power at 290 air watts – that’s 110 more and this means deep cleaning performance on carpet.
How are these two uprights different?
Biggest difference would be the filtration system. This version uses the old radial root cyclones and a pre-motor filter.
Both have washable HEPA filters certified by Asthma and Allergy friendly by the AAFA.
Between the two I’d go with this over the Cinetic because I’m still warry about the long term viability of the Cinetic Science filters. But you’ll have to wash the pre-motor filter at least once a month if you use this every day.
What we like about this Dyson?
- Very good suction power
- Stiff brushes will provide excellent agitation on carpet
- Decent sized bin
- Wide cleaning path
- Long warranty
- Has a 35 foot power cord which is great for large homes
What we don’t like?
- This is one expensive piece of machine
- Big, bulky and heavy
- Bin is a bit messy to empty especially when filled with hair
Bottom line: The Cinetic is nice but expensive so this is a great option if you want something cheaper. It does not have as much tools as the Cinetic Animal but you’ll save some $$$ so I don’t really mind the lack of tools. What I like is the power that will inhale pet hair from floors and upholstery.
Bissell 1650A Pet Hair Eraser Upright
Bissell recently just introduced their new product line called the “Pet Hair Eraser”.
The 1650A is the upright version that now comes with the tangle-free brush roll.
One of the biggest issues with a traditional brush roll is the propensity of hair to wrap up.
This new feature prevents hair from wrapping around the brush.
Bristles are stiff and bar really thick which is great for agitation pet hair on carpet.
It has the “SmartSeal Allergen” system that keeps dirt inside the bin. To remove odor you can plug in the Fabreze pet odor eliminator.
To put simply, it has HEPA filtration but this is a bagless vacuum so there is still exposure to dust.
It has a detachable wand and 8 foot hose where you can attach a crevice tool, combination tool and the Pet TurboEraser tool.
Just watch the video below and see how this Bissell works on a large pile of mess…
Large pile is an understatement when you see all the pet hair, dander and muck on the rug.
This vacuum did a really good job picking up these messes from a relatively low pile rug. When you look at the brush roll after cleaning cycle, it didn’t have a strand of hair wrapped up.
It has an 8 foot long hose – long enough to clean stairs.
What we like about this upright?
- Good power and agitation especially on rugs and carpet
- Hair will not tangle on the brush roll
- Long flexible hose is capable of cleaning a flight of stairs
- PetHair Turbo Brush is effective on upholstery
- Great pick up even on the edges
- Spooling system separates dirt from hair which makes it easier and less messy to empty
- Long 5 year warranty
What we don’t like?
- It’s bagless so there is still exposure to dirt
- Heavy and noisy
- This machine is bulky so it won’t be as effective cleaning under furniture
Bottom line: Bissell is on to something here with the Pet Hair Eraser 1650A. The tangle free system is really tangle free. And this will cost less than both Dyson uprights at just $200. It’s a bargain in our book.
Miele C3 Cat & Dog
In terms of filtration, they’re one of the best. Their bags and filtration system will filter out up to 0.1 microns – that’s 99.95% filtration. So this meets HEPA 13 standards in Europe. And if you’re familiar with how the Europeans set standards it’s usually higher than the United States.
The bag remains sealed even after you remove it thanks to the spring loaded self locking seal.
It prevents allergens from spewing out when you pick up the bag from the bin.
To clean pet hair on carpet floors and stairs, the Cat & Dog comes with the SEB228 Electro Plus motorized brush with the five level height adjustment that’ll you can adjust for different type of carpet.
It also has the SBB300-3 parquet twister for bare floors. The STB 101 mini turbo brush will work great at cleaning pet hair on upholstery.
What we like about the Miele Cat & Dog?
- Great filtration that will trap allergens up to 0.1 microns (Dyson can only filter up to 0.5)
- Will deep clean carpet and upholstery
- Large bags will last longer
- Decent power cord length
- Long 7 year warranty
What we don’t like
- Very, very, very expensive (close to $1,000)
- Bags aren’t cheap
Bottom line: If you don’t mind paying close to a grand for a canister vacuum this is a very good option. It has probably the best filtration system that keeps allergens up to 0.1 microns inside the bag. A great option for medium and even
Shark Rotator Powered Lift Away Canister NR96
What’s lacking is the DuoClean system that should be available in future releases.
Armed with a motorized main cleaning head, this lightweight canister is capable of cleaning pet hair on various surfaces like bare floor and carpet.
With the flexible hose, detachable wand and interchangeable tools, you can use this to clean carpeted stairs.
You can directly attach the power head to the handle which makes stair cleaning easy.
The wand itself is adjustable so even tall folks can use this.
Shark also added the “Lift Away” feature that separates the pod from the body. It frees makes the vacuum much lighter because you don’t need to carry the pod. You’ll be able to move this around easier.
It won’t be as good as the Miele in terms of deep cleaning BUT it’s a much cheaper option.
Don’t expect the same filtration though as this is a bagless.
What we like from this Shark canister?
- Lightweight and compact
- Bin opens on both sides so it’s easy to empty
- Adjustable wand is provides great reach
- Long 5 year warranty
- LED headlights will help you track down dust and pet hair
- Great for cleaning under furniture
- Comes with a mini turbo tool for picking up pet hair on upholstery
What we don’t like
- It won’t deep clean as well as larger canisters
- Short crevice tool
- No HEPA filtration
Bottom line: This is another viable option if the Miele is too expensive. It’ll do a pretty decent job cleaning carpet and upholstery because of the motorized brush roll available in the main cleaning tool and upholstery tool. But it lacks HEPA filtration so it’ll not be a good option if you have asthma.
Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH
Not having any cords will allow you to clean up on the fly.
Have guests coming over in just 15 minutes? Just grab a cordless and quickly pickup whatever pet hair there is on your sofa.
The Black & Decker BDH2020FLFH is one of the best because it has two really handy features that pet owners will love.
First is the 4 foot flexible hose that extends the reach of this product and a dedicated pet hair tool that works well on fabric upholstery.
It also comes with an extension wand with a floor tool at the end that’ll help you clean hard floors without bending over.
To round out the tools list, it also comes with a combination brush/nozzle and crevice tool.
The 20 volt lithium ion battery will take roughly 3 hours to charge and run for about 15 minutes.
If you can’t afford a Dyson then this is a viable cheaper alternative.
By the way I’ve also compiled 5 of the best cordless vacuums for pet hair in another article, please check that out of you can.
What we like about this cordless Black & Decker?
- Compact, lightweight and cordless
- Decent power (actually has more power than a Dyson cordless in normal mode)
- 4 foot flexible hose extends reach and coverage on tight areas
- Has a dedicated pet hair tool that’ll work great on upholstery or stairs (for spot cleaning of course)
What we don’t like
- Has less power than a corded handheld
- Small dirt bin
- Can’t use the floor tool on carpet – it has no motorized brush
Bottom line: If you need something compact, lightweight and cordless this is a great option. Power is great for a cordless. Run time is also great at 40 minutes max. You’ll love using this to pick up pet hair on areas like your sofa, chairs and even stairs. The flexible hose also makes it great to use on tight spots.
Dyson V8 Absolute
If you own a small home with an equal mix of carpet and bare floor then you have to take a close look at the Dyson V8.
It’s probably the most versatile stick vacuum without a cord. And it has enough power and a long enough run time to clean a small flat.
Two main tools are the soft roller cleaner head and the direct drive cleaner tool that provide great agitation.
The soft roller head will work great on bare floor literally pulling dirt towards the suction chamber while the direct drive cleaner head does a decent job on carpet.
It won’t deep clean as well as a corded but at least pet hair won’t pile up. A post motor HEPA filter will keep allergens up to 0.5 microns inside the bin.
At max mode the V8 has around 115 air watts so power is decent. But it’ll only run for 7 minutes when engaged.
What we like about the V8?
- Most versatile stick vacuum available right now
- Doesn’t have any cords so you can use this anywhere
- 40 minute run time (minus the power tools) is more than enough for most tasks
- Soft roller head works great on bare floor
- Has HEPA filtration
- New bin design is easier and less messy to empty
What we dislike?
- Very expensive at over $500
- Short warranty
- Don’t expect this to deep clean carpet
Bottom line: The Dyson V8 is great option for small to even medium sized homes because of its sheer versatility. You can use it as a stick vacuum to clean floors or a handheld and clean different nooks and crannies. It isn’t the strongest cleaner but if you need a lightweight and an effective cleaning tool for pet hair then have a look at this.
Hoover Linx Stick
If you’re not willing spend that much then here’s another option that’s much cheaper but still effective.
Despite being an old model, the Hoover Linx Stick is still a great option for cleaning pet hairs on floors.
It has decent power, light and you don’t need a lot of space to store this. More than 8,000 people have left reviews so Hoover must be doing something right.
But this product is purely a stick vacuum and will only clean floors. There’s no hose or tools that’ll allow this to clean above floor.
What we like about this?
- It’s cheap
- Lightweight and easy to store
- Decent power on bare floor or carpet
- Decent sized bin
What we don’t like
- Can’t use this to clean upholstery or stairs
- Short run time (with the brush roll turned on)
- No swivel steering
Bottom line: This is a nice cheap cordless stick option for folks who live inside apartments. It’s light, compact and will do a decent job of picking up pet hair on carpet or hard floors. Take note that it does not have any capability of cleaning upholstery or stairs so pair this with a handheld.
I hope this lengthy article helped you in narrowing down your vacuum options for cleaning pet hair.
Choosing the right one will depend on the size of your home, type of flooring and budget.
Smaller homes will benefit from a cordless, handheld or a stick vacuum. If you don’t have any carpet then a cheaper stick vacuum like Shark Rocket HV 302 will do.
But larger homes with lots of carpet will need a full sized upright to deep clean.
Folks with asthma would benefit from a vacuum with a bagged HEPA filter and I’ve recommended some above like the Miele C3 Cat & Dog. One brand I didn’t mention in the list but should be on your short list would be the Oreck Magnesium.
LIke Miele it has a bag but it’s weighs just 8 pounds. If you’re having trouble with carry heavy uprights this is a great option.
If you have any questions or suggestions please hit me up below.