Which is the Best Vacuum for Pet Hair?

Written by James Hall | 2 Comments| Last Updated: May 1, 2018

One of the hardest jobs for a vacuum cleaner is picking up dog or cat hair – especially once it’s become trapped in carpet fibres. This page lists our top picks for the best vacuum for pet hair.
Cats and dogs can cause unpleasant odours

Are you tired of living in a home that's covered in hair? Whether you live with a dog, cat or any other shedding pet, cleaning hair can sometimes feel like a losing battle.

Part of the problem is that many vacuum cleaners struggle to get fur out from carpets and upholstery. If your vac tends to create a hair ball rather than pick it up - or just pass over hair without any noticeable effect - you'll know what I mean!

Many vacuums also have poor-quality filters. This can lead to more allergens floating around your home, along with a general feeling of uncleanliness.

Fortunately, there are a number of pet vacuums designed with the power and functionality to pick up animal hair, leaving your home feeling cleaner and reducing allergenic particles. If you or anyone else in your home suffers from allergies, this can make a difference to sneezing, runny noses and other reactions.

Why Buy a Pet Hair Vacuum?

So what’s the difference between the best vacuums for pet hair and a “regular” model? The simple answer is removing fur requires two things – strong suction and a brush to stir up the carpet. While most models claim to have both, in reality there is a huge difference in performance between an average cleaner and one that excels at removing hair.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a list of our top pet fur vacuums below. As with all our vacuum cleaner reviews, we’ve considered a variety of factors – but with a bias towards models that are great for homes with pets.

Which are the Best Vacuum Cleaners for Pet Hair?

Before we get to the reviews, here's a comparison table. Each of the models in this table provides great value for money and is one of the best in its class for dog or cat hair, but the right choice depends on your requirements.

 ImageNameTypeCapacityWeightBagged?View Price
Miele C3 Cat and Dog PowerlineCylinder4.5 litres5.4kgBaggedView Price
Dyson Ball Animal 2Upright1.8 litres7.3kgBaglessView Price
Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator PetHandheld0.3 litres1.8kgBaglessView Price
Dyson V8 AbsoluteCordless0.54 litres2.61kgBaglessView Price
Vax Air Lift Steerable PetUpright1.5 litres6.2kgBaglessView Price
Shark Rocket True Pet HV390UKTStick1 litre4.8kgBaglessView Price
Dyson Big Ball Animal 2Cylinder1.5 litres7.5kgBaglessView Price

1. Best Pet Vacuum: Miele C3 Cat and Dog Powerline

Miele C3 Cat & Dog

One of the most popular cylinder pet vacuums is the excellent Miele Complete C3 Cat and Dog Powerline. It’s a 900W bagged model that’s built to remove both fur and odours, due to its TurboTeq floorhead and efficient filter.

What makes this model worthy of our #1 pet vacuum award though?​

Firstly, the C3 series has a highly efficient 900W motor. It excels at getting stubborn hairs out of carpets and upholstery, while also removing dust, dirt and other debris.

Like most Miele cylinders, this is a bagged vacuum cleaner. While bags add to the total cost, they mean it's easier to empty the vac without releasing dust and other allergens. This is important for people with pet or dust allergies.

Aside from the powered floor head, the C3 Cat and Dog includes a miniature turbo tool. ​This is great for removing dirt from upholstery, stairs and other awkward areas. The vacuum is also surprisingly quiet and relatively easy to move around the home, although it's not a lightweight model.

Other features include a 10 metre operating radius, adjustable power settings and excellent cleaning performance on hard floors. It also comes with Miele's active AirClean filter which helps neutralise odours.

If you’re looking for a powerful cylinder pet vacuum,the C3 Cat and Dog could be the perfect option. It removes hair far more efficiently than other models and is great for people with allergies. In our opinion, it's the best pet vacuum available at the moment.

Click here to read our full review of the C3 Cat and Dog (this was of the previous 1200W version but most features are the same).

Key Features:

  • Excellent suction power
  • One of the best models for picking up pet fur
  • AirClean filter to remove allergens
  • The best bagged vacuum cleaner for pet hair

Specification:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Power: 900W
  • Weight: 5.4kg
  • Dust Capacity: 4.5 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

2. Dyson Ball Animal 2

Dyson Ball Animal 2

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a cyclonic upright vacuum cleaner that, like the Miele C3 above, excels at getting rid of animal hair.

While the DC40 and DC41 Mk2 are no longer available, the Animal 2 would still be our #1 pick for a Dyson upright pet hair vacuum due to its excellent performance, tangle-free turbine tool and battle-tested design.

​Let's start with the basics. The Ball Animal 2 is built with Dyson's popular "Ball" technology for greater mobility, along with an articulated handle for cleaning awkward locations. It also has an effective filtration system that's been certified by Allergy Standards Limited.

Most importantly, the Ball Animal 2 is great at removing fur.​ Cat and dog hair is easy to remove due to the powerful suction and Epicyclic floor head - and it even does a good job at removing matted hair. There's also a carbon fibre turbine head and tangle-free turbine tool for stairs, cars and upholstery.

Are there any downsides to this model though? There aren't many, although it's a relatively heavy machine and can be awkward on stairs. It's also quite expensive, although it doesn't have the crazy price tag of Dyson's cordless vacuums.

One thing to note is that the Ball Animal 2 is a bagless model (like all Dyson vacs). This saves money on bags, but bagless models are often more difficult to empty without spilling dust. Fortunately, it's easy to empty with the push-button design - although if you have allergies make sure you do it outside.

Despite the price, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 is amongst the best vacuums for pet hair – especially if you’re looking for an upright model. It’s not cheap, and is quite a hefty machine, but in this case you get what you pay for. While the Miele C3 is probably the top all-round model, the Ball Animal 2 is our choice for the best upright vacuum for pet hair. 

Key Features:

  • Powerful suction and efficient filtration
  • Performs well on both carpets and hard floors
  • Great performance on stubborn fur (especially with turbine tool)

Specification:

  • Price Range: ££££
  • Weight: 7.34kg
  • Dust Capacity: 1.8 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

3. Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet

Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet

We wanted to include a cordless handheld on this list, as they are convenient, relatively cheap and highly mobile. One of the best handheld pet vacuums is the Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator, which boasts a cordless design, crevice tools, powered turbo head (which is great for hair) and a 20 minute charge time.

Other features include an easy to empty bin, 18V battery and lightweight 1.8kg design, making this our pick for the best handheld vacuum for pet hair.

Considering this is a lightweight handheld model, the Gator picks up hair surprisingly effectively. Its small design also makes it great for cars or cleaning above the floor.

It's important to have realistic expectations though. This model is never going to match the C3 Cat and Dog or Big Ball Animal 2 when it comes to pulling up dog and cat hair from carpets. For removing pet hair from stairs, sofas an​d car interiors, however, it can do a decent job for the price.

It also comes with an integrated crevice tool. This is great for getting down the cracks in sofa cushions, although it's attached to the vacuum body so it can't get into deep locations.

To summarise, if you want to keep your home clean from animal hair without an expensive, bulky new vac, the Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator could be the perfect option. It’s small and light, but still packs enough punch to get the job done, and is probably the best handheld vacuum cleaner for pet hair (at least in this price range).

Key Features:

  • Powerful suction and efficient filtration
  • Long 4.6 metre hose
  • Great performance on pet fur with the turbo tool

Specification:

  • Price Range: £
  • Weight: 1.8kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.3 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

4. Dyson V8 Absolute/Animal

Dyson V8 Absolute

The jewel in the crown of the Dyson cordless range is the outstanding V8 Absolute. It's a powerful machine that improves on the previous V6 version in several key areas - with the most important being a longer battery life. It's also one of the best cordless vacuum cleaners for pet hair.

The biggest difference between the previous V6 and the V8 Absolute is the longer run-time. The V8 is capable of running for up to 40 minutes on a single charge, which should be plenty of time for most cleaning tasks.

Most importantly for dog or cat owners, it also does a great job of cleaning up fur. This is in contrast to many cordless models, which often struggle to generate the suction power required.​ The mini motorised tool also helps improved hair pickup on sofas or stairs, while the "whole machine filtration" system reduces dander re-emission.

As always, there are some drawbacks . ​The biggest is the price, as this is one of the most expensive pet vacuums on the market. With a small dust capacity, it also needs to be emptied regularly.

​Even with these minor issues, you won't be disappointed in the V8 Absolute. It's a joy to use, powerful and great with dog or cat hair. There's also no doubt that it's an improvement on the already highly-rated V6 range. It's our current top pick for the best Dyson vacuum for pet hair.

Note: On our list of the best cordless pet vacuums, we put the V8 Animal ahead of the Absolute. This is because for most people the Animal provides excellent performance at a lower cost. They are both similar vacuums, but the Animal is cheaper yet still has a direct-drive cleaner head for carpets. Go for the Absolute if you need the hardwood floor head​ though.

Key Features:

  • One of the best cordless vacuums for pet hair
  • Comes with the "Fluffy" floor head for hard floors
  • 40 minute run-time

Specification:

  • Price Range: ££££
  • Weight: 2.61kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.54 litres
  • Filter Type: Whole Machine

5. Shark Rocket True Pet HV390UKT

Shark HV390UKT TruePet

If you're looking for a pet hair stick vacuum, but don't want a cordless, the Shark HV390UKT is one of the best options. It's fantastic at quickly picking up cat or dog hair and is also great on carpets.

One of the most interesting features of the Shark is the Duo floor head. Instead of a single brush bar, the True Pet comes with two​. This allows the Shark to clean more deeply and remove almost any type of debris from hard floors and carpets, including hair and smaller particles. This design also allows the Shark to remove fur that's become tangled into the carpet.

In addition to the ​duo floor head, the HV390UKT also has a miniature turbo tool for pet fur. This is great for upholstery - especially as it has a handheld mode. The Shark is also built with an easy-to-manoeuvre design that's great for getting around and under furniture.

There are a few downsides to this cat and dog vacuum though. While the filter is reasonably effective, it can be difficult to empty the dust container without dust escaping. It's a relatively lightweight vacuum, but this comes at the expense of dust capacity which is approximately one litre. The good news is that Shark has reduced the noise output from 88dB to 80dB in comparison to the previous HV380UKT.

Overall, we think the Shark True Pet is one of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair on carpets. This is largely due to its "Duo" brush bars, which help remove more hair and dirt from carpet fibres, and the mini motorised brush for fur. The lightweight design with optional handheld mode also makes it a versatile pet vacuum cleaner.

Key Features:

  • Great at removing pet hair from carpets
  • Motorised cat and dog hair attachment for upholstery
  • Relatively lightweight

Specification:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Weight: 4.8kg
  • Dust Capacity: 1 litre
  • Filter Type: Washable

6. Dyson Big Ball Animal 2

big ball animal 2

Dyson is probably best known for upright vacs, but the company also produces some excellent cylinder vacuum cleaners. The Big Ball Animal 2 is probably our favourite - and it's also great for pet owners.

As you would expect from Dyson, the Big Ball Animal 2 has a number of interesting features. We like the "self-righting" function, which means it returns to upright when knocked over. The emptying system also has a sheath to removes debris from the sides of the bin, so you don't need to pull it out manually.

Most importantly for pet owners, the Big Ball 2 makes quick work of pet hair. Whether you own a long-haired dog or a short-haired cat, it can easily remove hair from carpets and hard floors.

One thing to note is that this model doesn't include Dyson's "Cinetic" technology. While pet owners will be pleased it has an A rating for dust re-emission, you'll need to clean the filter regularly to keep it running effectively.

Even so, the most important thing is that it keeps allergens trapped inside the machine. While this is vital for allergy sufferers, everyone can benefit from fewer particles of pet dander, bacteria and dust floating around their home.

There are a few things that hold the Animal 2 back though. Firstly, we don't think the carpet pickup is quite as strong as the Miele C3 Cat & Dog. It does a great job with animal hair and is better than the previous Cinetic Big Ball Animal for all-round cleaning though.​ It also has a relatively small capacity for a cylinder.

Despite these drawbacks, the Big Ball Animal 2 is one of the best cylinder vacuums for pet hair. It's also great for hard floor cleaning - although on carpets the strong suction can make it hard to push.

Key Features:

  • Great performance on pet hair and hard floors
  • Excellent filtration and allergen retention
  • Powerful suction

Specification:

  • Price Range: ££££
  • Weight: 7.5kg
  • Dust Capacity: 1.5 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable Lifetime

7. Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet UCPESHV1

Vax Air Lift UCPESHV1

If you're looking for a cheap pet vacuum, the Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet is probably one of the best options. While its recommended retail price is £180, many online stores sell it for considerably cheaper - and it provides animal hair vacuum performance that rivals pricier models.

As you would expect from a cleaner named "Air Lift Pet," the Vax does a good job of removing pet hair from carpets. It also does a decent job with larger debris, so it'll quickly clean up any spilt cat litter. As a dog hair vacuum, it can cope with both short and long hair breeds.

Unlike the previous U87 model, this vacuum doesn't include a HEPA filter. It still has multi-cyclonic technology and an A-rating for dust re-emission, however, so it does a decent job of retaining allergies.

Like most pet vacuums, the Air Lift Steerable Pet includes a small Turbo Tool. This is great for removing hair that's trapped on sofas or stairs - especially once it's ground into the fibres of fabrics.

Another useful feature is the lift-out canister. This makes stairs and above floor cleaning much more convenient - although it can't match the V8 Absolute for versatility.

Cleaning radius is one feature that lets this model down. Unlike Vax's Air Stretch models, which have a 13 metre cleaning radius, it only provides 10 metres.  The 1.65 metre hose also isn't long enough to clean stairs without moving the vacuum both to the top and bottom, although the lift-out cylinder means this isn't so much of an issue.

While the Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet isn't the "best" vacuum for pet fur, it does provide outstanding value for money. If you need to remove hair from your carpets but don't want to pay £250+, it's one of the top choices for an upright pet vacuum.​

Key Features:

  • Powerful suction for the money
  • Includes a hard floor adaptor
  • Great performance on pet hair

Specification:

  • Price Range: ££
  • Weight: 6.2kg
  • Dust Capacity: 1.5 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable
Cats can cause allergic reactions

How to Choose a Dog & Cat Vacuum

We’ve written many guides about choosing vacuum cleaners (see the menu at the top for more information), but here’s a brief overview of some of the primary considerations if you have animals in your home.

  • Budget. Pet vacuums tend to be more expensive, as they have strong suction and more efficient brush action – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains around (and a higher price doesn’t always equal better performance). Make sure you know your budget before you start looking.
  • Type. Vacuums come in several different types, including cylinder, upright and handheld. There are also robot vacuums, several of which claim to be able to handle animal hair. The right model for your home depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the house, the size of your pet, how much hair is shed, and the amount of suction power you need.
  • Breed of pet. While nearly all dogs and cats shed, some breeds shed more than others! Labradors, German shepherds, golden retrievers and Siberian Huskys, for example, are known to be heavy shedders, while poodles and chihuahuas are amongst the least. If your pooch (or cat) is a heavy shedder, consider getting a more powerful pet hair vacuum with a larger capacity.
  • Filter type. An efficient filter (preferably a HEPA filter) is vital for a pet vacuum. A poor quality filter could allow allergens picked off the floor to be re-released into the air. This is a vital concern, as domestic animal allergens are the “second most important cause of allergy” in the UK (according to AllergyUK.org). Some models also come with filters for removing pet odours from the air, which can make a home environment much more pleasant. As a side note, dogs can suffer from dust allergies too.
  • Capacity. A pet hair vacuum cleaner should provide powerful suction to dig into carpets and remove as much hair and dander as possible. The downside to this is that the dirt bin can fill up quickly – especially if it’s small. Make sure you know the size of the model’s capacity before you buy.
  • Bagged or Bagless. Whether you want a bagged or bagless model is a matter of personal preference, as both types of advantages. The best bagless vacuum for pet hair is probably the Dyson Ball Animal 2, as it provides excellent suction without the expense of bags. The downside to all bagless models, however, is that allergens can often be released when emptying the bin. Bagged models, such as the C3 Cat and Dog, prevent this by having automatic sealing mechanisms, which makes them more suitable for people with allergies.
  • Accessories. Some models come with an extensive set of accessories, with a turbo tool being the most important for pet hair. Other models only include basic tools (such as crevice tools) – and some don’t have any tools at all. Try to think about the areas of your home that are difficult to clean, so you know which accessories are most important.

Note: A common question is “which is the best vacuum for dog hair…and is it different to cats?” While the hair of cat and dogs is very different, most models are built to excel at picking up any type – including humans! So any of the models listed above would be suitable for homes with either cats and dogs (or both).

Summary

If you’re starting to think your home will never be free from pet hair – don’t worry! There are some excellent pet vacuums available.

While the best vacuum for pet hair depends on your requirements, we think the #1 all round model is the Miele C3 Cat and Dog Powerline. It has strong suction and can really dig into carpets and remove any trapped hair. For handheld models, the Vax is a good option, while the Dyson is probably the best upright vacuum cleaner for pet hair.

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2 Comments on "Which is the Best Vacuum for Pet Hair?"

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Janet Foster
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Hello. have these hoovers been updated since the EU brought in those new rules?