Does your pet leave a trail of hair around the house? A handheld vacuum can be more convenient for spot cleaning than a cylinder or upright. In this article, we’ve listed four of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair in 2023.
#1 Pick: Dyson V7 Trigger
The Dyson V7 Trigger is also easy to use, lightweight, and has a relatively long 30-minute run-time. It was one of the best performers during our handheld vacuum tests and a model we highly recommend.
If you own a dog, cat or other animal that sheds, keeping hair in check can be an endless task. Some pet owners need to vacuum almost daily, which can be tiring when using a heavy upright vacuum cleaner.
The fact that hair can get everywhere – from furniture to stairs – makes this even more difficult!
Buying a handheld vacuum for pet hair can save time and energy. These vacuums have many advantages, such as being small, lightweight and convenient to use in “tricky” locations such as stairs or on sofas. Most are also cheaper than full-size vacuums.
Of course, you need to have realistic expectations of a handheld vacuum. These models don’t have the suction power or cleaning performance of full-size vacs. This means they can’t remove the same quantity of dirt and other debris. Many are also cordless and don’t have a long run-time, which means they are better suited to spot cleaning than long sessions.
Even so, there are handheld vacuums available that provide strong performance and a convenient design. They are great for removing the worst of hair on a daily basis, so your weekly clean with a more powerful vacuum is easier and faster. Handheld vacs are also brilliant for cars, stairs, and other awkward areas.
In this article, we’ll start with a guide to choosing a handheld for pets. We’ve then listed four of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair to help you make an informed decision.
What to Look for in a Handheld Pet Vacuum
Before we go any further, you need to decide whether a handheld vacuum is the right choice.
Handhelds excel at spot cleaning or tackling tricky areas, such as stairs or above cupboards. The best models also have decent suction power considering the small size of the machine. If you need a vacuum for removing the worst of pet hair around your house quickly and conveniently, then they are a great option. Most are also relatively cheap.
What they can’t do is compete with full-size uprights or even cordless vacuums when it comes to cleaning performance. This is partly due to size – handhelds don’t have a large floor head which means it would take a long time to clean large areas. Also, while the suction power of the best handhelds is enough to get rid of pet hair, they struggle with the toughest dirt and other debris.
If you’re sure a handheld is a right choice, here are some things to look for:
- Corded or Cordless. Most options are cordless handheld vacuum cleaners. They run on battery power, which is great for mobility and convenience, but means they usually only last 10-20 minutes before needing to be recharged. Vacuums with a cord are less manoeuvrable, but are often more powerful and run for as long as you need them. If you’ve decide to get a cordless model, you may also want to read our guide to the best cordless vacuums for pet hair.
- Battery Life. If you decide to get a cordless, the battery run-time is one of the most important considerations. Handhelds tend to have short run-times, so they are often only suitable for spot cleaning.
- Cleaning Performance. It sounds obvious, but make sure a vacuum can suck up pet hair on a variety of surfaces. The performance of a vacuum doesn’t only depend on the suction power though. Factors such as whether it has a powered brush bar, the shape of the nozzle and internal sealing all affect whether a vacuum cleaner struggles with pet hair.
- Weight. Most handhelds are lightweight – especially compared to full-size vacuums. There’s still variation between the lightest handhelds and the rest though. Choosing a light model is especially important if you need to clean locations above your head.
- Capacity and Filtration. Handheld vacuums tend to have very small internal capacities. This is a natural consequence of a lightweight and small design. Even so, the larger the capacity the less you’ll need to empty the machine, so make sure you check this before you buy. If you suffer from allergies, then look for a cordless handheld vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Price. The cheapest handheld vacuums for pet hair cost as little as £50, while the most expensive (from brands such as Dyson) can cost considerably more. A higher price doesn’t always mean better performance, but the more expensive options on the list below are likely to remove more hair than cheaper options.
We also need to point out that the majority of handheld vacuums are terrible for getting rid of pet hair. This isn’t a criticism – most aren’t designed for such a tricky cleaning task – but it means you need to be careful about which you choose.
To give a solid example of this, one of our top recommendations for a handheld – the Black+Decker Lithium Pivot – is great for almost everything, but is not suitable for pet hair.
4 Best Handheld Vacuums for Dog or Cat Hair
Now you know what makes a great handheld vacuum for pets, here are four of the best options on the market. These models range in price, but all provide great performance and excellent value for money.
|Rank||Image||Product Name||Cord/Cordless||Price Range||Read More|
|Dyson V7 Trigger||Cordless||£££||View Price|
|Shark HandVac CH950UKT||Cordless||£||View Price|
|Gtech Multi MK2 K9||Cordless||£££||View Price|
|Bissell Pet Hair Eraser||Cordless||££||View Price|
1. Dyson V7 Trigger
Our top recommendation for a handheld vacuum for pet hair is the Dyson V7 Trigger. This is the successor to Dyson’s excellent V6 range, so it’s a powerful model that comes with several useful tools. As you’d expect from a Dyson vacuum, it’s not cheap, but it can make cleaning pet hair much faster.
What exactly is the Trigger and how does it compare to Dyson cordless vacuums? Firstly, the Trigger uses the same motor as the full-size V7 range. This provides powerful suction and a run-time of approximately 30 minutes. It doesn’t have the floor tools or long rigid tube of the V6 Fluffy or similar models, but comes with a mini motorised tool, crevice tool and combination tool.
Most importantly for this article, the Trigger is fantastic for cleaning cat and dog hair. During our testing, we found it generates powerful suction and can tackle hair on almost any surface. The mini motorised tool also provides the extra cleaning power required to get rid of stubborn hair (although you’ll need to use boost mode for this).
There are a few drawbacks to the Trigger though. It’s a noisy handheld, so it’s not suitable for cleaning when people are asleep. It’s also a bit too bulky to fit into the tight spots in car interiors. For most tasks, however, it does an excellent job – but it has a high price tag to match.
In summary, the Dyson V7 Trigger is a fantastic all-round handheld vacuum that does a great job on pet hair. It’s powerful, easy to use and provides fade-free suction throughout the 30 minute run-time. The motorised tool is also great for getting rid of hair. If you don’t mind paying extra for the Dyson, it’s our top rated handheld vacuum for pet hair. Click here to view its price or, if you want to learn more about this vacuum cleaner, click here for our full review.
Note: Dyson used to produce a model called the V6 Top Dog. This was a similar vacuum to the V6 Trigger Pro, but came with a “Stubborn Dirt” brush for getting mud out of carpets. Unfortunately, this model is no longer in production – although you may still be able to find it if your dog or cat regularly treads mud through the house.
- Excellent fade-free suction power
- Mini motorised tool
- Great all-round performance
- Run-Time: 30 minutes
- Capacity: 0.54L
- Weight: 1.38kg
2. Shark HandVac CH950UKT
Another of the best handheld vacuum cleaners for pet hair is the Shark HandVac CH950UKT. It’s much cheaper than the Dyson and has less suction power, but our testing showed that it’s great for removing hair on almost any surface. If you’re looking for a handheld pet vacuum on a budget, this is the one to get.
The first thing to note about the Shark is that it comes with a powered turbo tool. This is rare on a handheld vacuum, and is one of the biggest reasons the HandVac is so effective at cleaning pet hair. We found that the turbo tool makes a big difference to hair pick up, while also improving the all-round performance of the vacuum.
Aside from its cleaning performance, the Shark is a straightforward vacuum to use. The dust bin can be emptied without removing it from the main vacuum, which makes emptying quick and easy, while the lightweight design is perfect for quick clean-ups.
On the other hand, the dust emptying system isn’t the most hygienic, as it releases a cloud of dust into the air. We recommend emptying this vacuum into an outdoor bin whenever possible. The Shark is also awkward to fit into tight spaces (such as car interiors), due to the rigid design and lack of a proper crevice tool.
Even so, we didn’t find many drawbacks to the Shark HandVac CH950UKT during our testing. It’s inexpensive, has a great turbo tool, and does a fantastic job of cleaning pet hair. It’s not got the longest battery life and the turbo tool is difficult to use at awkward angles, but for getting rid of dog or cat hair there aren’t many better options. Click here to view its price.
- Powered turbo tool for pet hair
- Dusting brush and crevice tool
- 10-minutes run-time
- Run-Time: 10 minutes
- Capacity: 0.45L
- Weight: 1.39kg
3. Gtech Multi MK2 K9
One of the most popular cordless vacuums in recent years was the Gtech AirRam. While it’s since been superseded by the AirRam Mk2, the original model was the reason Gtech rapidly became a household brand.
What many people don’t realise is that the company also produces an excellent handheld vacuum called the Multi – and the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 version is fantastic for cleaning pet hair.
We’ve reviewed the basic version of the Multi Mk2 (see picture below). We found it to provide decent cleaning performance with a lightweight design – and the same is true for the K9 version. It has a relatively small 0.4 litre dust capacity and only a 20-minute run-time – both less than the Dyson V7 Trigger – but we still found it to be a great choice for spot cleaning.
To make quick work of pet hair, the Multi K9 comes with a Power Brush Head tool. This, like the Shark equivalent, provides extra cleaning power for getting rid of stubborn hair and dirt. We found this to be effective at removing pet hair from short pile carpets, sofas and hard floors, although it struggles more with hair tangled in deep pile carpets.
There are also several non-motorised tools. The most useful is the extension wand with a dusting brush, as this is great for cleaning hair along skirting boards or windowsills. A bonus is that the vacuum has headlights, so you can illuminate wherever you need to clean.
Another welcome feature of the K9 is the scented filter tabs. These hide unpleasant pet smells to leave your home smelling fresher and cleaner. While we would have liked an activated charcoal filter, as these absorb smells rather than just hide them, the scented filter is a decent alternative.
The biggest drawback to the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 is the price. It’s a powerful vacuum that does a great job on pet hair though, so we think it’s worth the money. Click here to view its price.
Note: There is also a basic Gtech Multi Mk2, without the reinforced components and scented filters. You can read our review of the basic Gtech Muli Mk2 here.
- Powered turbo tool
- Scented filter to hide pet smells
- 20 minute run-time
- Run-Time: 20 minutes
- Weight: 1.5kg
4. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser 2390a
Bissell is a brand that often slips under the radar when choosing a vacuum cleaner, but they produce some decent models at great prices. An example is the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, which has been specifically designed to get rid of dog, cat and other animal hair. It does a great job too – mainly due to the motorised brush.
With a name like the “Pet Hair Eraser”, you would expect the Bissell to be pretty good at getting rid of hair. Fortunately, it isn’t a let down. The motorised tool has a rotating brush bar to dig into carpets, sofas and stairs, so it’s much more effective than the average handheld.
Aside from the motorised brush, the Bissell comes with a crevice tool, upholstery tool and triple filtration system. It also has an easy-to-empty bin and is relatively quiet. A downside is that the long design can make it difficult to use in small spaces, especially as it doesn’t come with a hose attachment.
If you’re looking for a handheld vacuum cleaner to spot clean between regular cleans, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a great choice. It’s cheaper than the Dyson, but does a good job of picking up everything from dirt to hair. It also has a larger dust capacity (0.7 litres) than many other handheld vacuums. Click here to read our full review of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser.
- Motorised brush bar
- 17 minute run-time
- Crevice and upholstery tool
- Run-Time: 17 minutes
- Weight: 1.36kg
If your pet covers the house in hair, a handheld vacuum can be a useful tool for keeping hair under control. Unfortunately, most handheld vacs don’t have the suction power or cleaning performance to tackle stubborn hair – so it’s vital to choose one that’s been designed for this task.
Our top pick for a handheld pet vacuum is the excellent Dyson V7 Trigger. It’s not cheap, but is probably the most effective handheld for getting rid of hair. If you don’t want to pay the high price of the Trigger Pro, the Shark HandVac CH950UKT Pet is a great (and cheaper) alternative.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best handheld vacuum for pet hair? Or have we missed a vacuum from this list? We want to hear from you!