Home > Dog Gear > Best Vacuums for Pet Hair in 2018

Best Vacuums for Pet Hair in 2018

I don’t know about you, but for me the worst part of being a dog owner is the tumbleweeds of hair that inhabit my home as a result. With two double-coated dogs that add up to 160 lbs, I’ve done more than my fair share of vacuuming up dog hair around the house.

I know that it can be a daily battle, and as a result of seeking out the best methods to win the fight against dog hair, I’ve gone through many different vacuum cleaners! Here’s what I learned about finding your perfect vacuum for pet hair.

Comparison: Vacuums for Pet Hair

Hover over each row to see the vacuum image and our rating.
VacuumDetailsPrice 
Dyson V8 Animal Cordless (Stick)Cordless; long lasting battery; lightweight; good suctionSee Amazon Price

Top Choice: Best Stick Vacuum
Shark Rotator TruePet (Upright)Lift-away canister; pet hair detailer brush; HEPA filtersSee Amazon Price
Oreck Commercial XL (Upright)Commercial quality; great suction; long cordSee Amazon Price
Bissell Lightweight (Handheld)Very small and lightweight; great for cars and furnitureSee Amazon Price
Neato Botvac D80 (Robot)Vacuums by itself; great for open spacesSee Amazon Price

Types of Vacuums for Pet Hair

The first thing you should think about when it comes to making a new vacuum purchase is what exactly your home needs.

Are you looking for something to use frequently, but in short doses to spot-clean when needed? Are you looking for something to do heavy duty carpet cleaning? Are you looking for a robot vacuum cleaner to try to automate some of your work?

There’s such a wide variety of cleaners out there today that it can often be beneficial to own two different types of vacuum cleaners to make your life easier, especially if you have multiple pets.

One of the first decisions you need to make regarding what type of vacuum cleaner fits your needs the best. With the rapidly advancing vacuum technologies, it can be hard to keep up. Let’s take a look at all the different types you should know and consider, in addition to the pros and cons of each.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canister vacuum cleaners are the oldest and most traditional style of vacuum cleaner. These cleaners feature a powered canister responsible for the suction and collection of debris that’s separate from the cleaning wand. Often times, the canisters would collect the dirt into a bag which you would then toss out (and need to refill from time to time).

Although this might be an old school style of vacuum cleaner, the modern versions are much more efficient and easy to use compared to their bulky ancestors from the 80’s.

Pros
  • Lightweight cleaning wand makes this the easiest to use and doesn’t require much strength
  • Canister is typically on wheels, which means it effortlessly follows you around the home
  • Canisters offer a good amount of size for debris collection, which means less emptying compared to some other vacuum types.
  • The suction force is happening further away from you, which means you don’t get that loud, annoying vacuum noise a few feet from your head.
  • Easier to reach under furniture since the cleaning wand has no extra bulk.
Cons
  • Requires two hands to transport, take up stairs, etc.
  • Depending on your home layout, you may find the canister configuration gets snagged on items in your home.
  • Two pieces may be harder to store.
  • Usually not the most powerful suction available.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are the most popular choice over the past decade or two, you’re probably very familiar with them. Upright vacuums are a one-piece construction that features a vacuum canister sitting on top of the cleaning wand, and a handle for you to easily push the whole device around.

Some upright vacuum cleaners may have powered wheels that help you move the vacuum across your floor, as well as a powerful, spinning brush that helps lift dirt, pet hair, and debris from your carpet for collection.

Pros
  • Very powerful suction.
  • Vacuums flooring quickly.
  • Biggest canister collection capacity.
Cons
  • Attachments for cleaning furniture and stairs may be lacking depending on the model.
  • Often heavy and bulky when it comes to moving up and down stairs.
  • Don’t reach under furniture very well.
  • Typically not offered in a cordless option.

 

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

A “stick” vacuum cleaner can really be thought of as a slimmer, often cordless (battery powered) upright vacuum. These don’t offer the same suction power or capacity as an upright vacuum cleaner, but they are much lighter and more maneuverable.

You essentially get less suction power for the added mobility. These work great for hardwoods since a lot of suction power isn’t needed to pick up hair.

Pros
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Smaller and easier to store/transport
  • Usually available in a battery-powered, cordless model
Cons
  • Not as much suction power or canister capacity as upright vacuums
  • Limited battery life may be a deal breaker for bigger homes
  • Typically do not include attachments

Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

A handheld vacuum is basically a smaller stick vacuum. These are also often (but not always) cordless. Handheld vacuum cleaners have way too small of a cleaning area to be used as a main vacuum cleaner, but they are excellent at vacuuming up pet hair from cars, crates, and furniture.

Also, if you often find you need to do a small spot-cleaning from time to time in between busting out your bigger vacuum cleaner, these tiny vacuums are perfect.

Pros
  • Extremely small and lightweight
  • Perfect for the car, stairs, and furniture
  • Also great for spot-cleaning or any small areas
Cons
  • Limited suction power and canister capacity
  • Too small to be used as a main vacuum cleaner

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Robot vacuum cleaners for pet hair are the latest in vacuum cleaner technology, but not always the greatest. The idea of a vacuum that goes around and sucks up all the pet hair in your home everyday sounds like a dream come true, but in practice I have found it’s never quite that simple.

For starters, you have to consider obstacles in your home before the cleaner starts working. You need to make sure things like dog toys, kids toys, shoes, charging cables, or any other random item around your home are picked up and out of the way so the robot has a clear path around your home.

Another potential issue is furniture height. If there isn’t a big enough gap between the floor and the base of your couch, bed, chairs, etc then the robot will not be able to clean under it. Another issue I have run in to is when there’s just enough room for a robot vacuum cleaner to get under a couch in one side, but not enough clearance for it to leave by exiting another side, the cleaner can become confused and essentially get stuck in a loop.

While robot vacs are a very exciting technology, at this point they’re still fairly expensive and in my experience you end up getting what you pay for. Stay away from cheap, “no-name” brands you can find around the internet as they are often extremely “simple” in their program and construction and run in to a lot more issues than the other bigger brands I have tried like Neato, Samsung, and iRobot.

Pros
  • Vacuums while you relax (when they work well)
Cons
  • Some models are very prone to getting stuck and missing areas of the floor.
  • Can’t climb stairs, clean furniture, etc.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Vacuum Cleaner

Now that we’ve covered the different types of vacuum cleaners out there, I’ll give you some advice as to how I myself would narrow down the options to what type of vacuum would suite me best. If you’ve already made up your mind, feel free to skip ahead.

How long do I need to run my vacuum for at once?

This question will tell you if a cordless, battery powered vacuum cleaner is in the cards for you. Most cordless models can run for about 20-60 minutes on a full charge depending on factors like what suction power is used, what attachments are used, etc.

How many levels are in my home?

If you live in a multi-level home, then you may not be as interested in a large, bulky upright vacuum cleaner if you can help it. You also may not be interested in a robot vacuum since you would need to either move it between levels frequently or get multiple for each level of your house, which is prohibitively expensive for most people.

How frequently do I plan on vacuuming?

If you prefer to vacuum frequently, then you’ll be picking up less dirt and pet hair each session. This means you can get away with a smaller dirt bin, so vacuum robots and lightweight stick vacuums become a better option.

If you tend to go awhile between cleanings, then a canister or upright vacuum will be a better option so you don’t have to repeatedly empty your dirt bin.

Best Cordless Vacuum for Pet Hair

Dyson V8 Animal

If you’ve determined a cordless vacuum cleaner is best for you, I’ve got just the solution – the Dyson V8 Animal is the perfect blend of cost and functionality.

While this vacuum may be more than you’ve ever paid for a cleaner before, in my experience the price tag is justified. This powerful cordless vacuum cleaner has much better suction than other vacuum cleaners I’ve used in the past. When I run the V8 over my dog’s bed, it actually looks like it’s new – all the dog hair gets sucked up quickly!

This thing is so lightweight it’s really easy to carry around the house, including up and down stairs. It comes with a few different attachments including a small, motorized motor head brush that’s very powerful for pulling pet hair out of any type of material of fabric.

I also find it extremely useful that this Dyson can transform into a handheld vacuum cleaner in just a few seconds which is perfect for when I need to vacuum the couch or just hunt down a few tumbleweeds of dog hair floating around the living room floor.

There are a few reasons why you wouldn’t want to get the Dyson V8, the first I mentioned earlier which is the cost. Currently this cleaner retails for around $400, so it’s quite the investment upfront.

Also if you have really long cleaning sessions, this vacuum may not be for you as the estimated run time is anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on what attachments and suction mode you use (normal, or heavy). In my experience I’m able to get a lot done quickly with this vacuum since it’s so easy to move around and the suction is so great even on the normal level, it speeds cleaning up for me.

There is a brand new Dyson V10 Animal which adds 20 minutes of battery life and a bigger dirt bin, but the price tag makes it nowhere near the value that the V8 is in my opinion, so I don’t think it’s worth the purchase unless your budget is unlimited.

Budget Pick

Looking for something cheaper? At nearly half the cost of the Dyson V8, the Bissell Bolt Pet doesn’t have quite as long of a battery life but is still a great option for those on a budget

Best Corded Vacuums for Pet Hair

Bagless Vacuum Pick: Shark Rotator TruePet



While the Shark line of vacuum products started off as a somewhat-cheesy infomercial brand, their products have built them a very large and successful following for delivering quality vacuum cleaners at affordable prices.

While their smaller stick vacuum cleaners may be their claim to fame, the Shark Rotator True Pet is an upright vacuum with features pet owners love. The most noteworthy thing about this vacuum is it’s actually both an upright and a canister style of vacuum. You can easily detach the suction canister from the cleaning wand itself which gives you the best of both worlds.

If you’re covering a large area, you can leave the vacuum as an upright so there’s nothing you need to carry around. When you need to get smaller areas like stairs or couches, you can detach the canister which gives you much more flexibility with the cleaning hose.

The Rotator comes with a 30 foot cord but it is quite heavy for a vacuum at 15 lbs.

The other main benefit of this vacuum that pet owners will love is the TruePet Motorized Brush. Similar to some other vacuums on our list, this device comes with a smaller brush head specifically designed to lift and suck away pet hair from any surface.

Bagged Vacuum Pick: Oreck Commercial XL


If you’re simply looking for a vacuum with the most suction power, the Oreck Commercial XL is it, hands down. It may not be very modern looking in terms of design and appearance, but this old-school vacuum gets the job done well. The Oreck Commercial XL is a corded upright vacuum which allows it to use a lot more power without having to worry about batteries dying.

In addition, Oreck uses bags to collect dirt and debris instead of canisters; this is an added cost long-term, however, this is a great option for households with allergies. If the act of dumping dirt from your vacuum into your garbage can and watching it all go airborne bums you out, then a bagged vacuum cleaner is your best friend!

My living room and bedrooms are carpeted (both of which are the only places Sasha seems to lay down!), and this is the only vacuum I’ll use now to get all of her white dog hair. When I used a few of my previous vacuums, I had to go over the same spot two to three times to really get all of the hair. The Oreck on the other hand only takes one pass throughout the whole house.

There are of course a few negatives to this vacuum, especially in comparison to the Dyson cordless we mentioned above. The Oreck is heavy, upwards of 10lbs. This makes it difficult for transporting up and down stairs and it also doesn’t have attachments for cleaning stairs and other small spaces. Finally, this is obviously a corded vacuum (which is really both a pro and con, depending on how you view it) so there is that constant hassle of changing outlets. Luckily, it comes with a pretty massive 35ft cord.

Best Handheld Vacuums for Pet Hair

Bissell Cordless Hand Vac

If you’ve decided a handheld is what you need, then I’d highly recommend the Bissell Cordless Hand Vac. With a powerful and swapable battery, you can get a spare battery to keep charged for extended cleaning sessions.

Really though, the main purpose of this vacuum is for spot-cleaning any tufts of hair you find floating around your house or for power-cleaning areas you can’t get a full-sized vacuum cleaner, like your couch or even in your car after a long road trip. This vacuum cleaner can last 15 minutes on a single charge, and I wouldn’t expect to need it for any longer than that given the types of jobs you’d be using it for.

This thing is very lightweight and portable, weighing about 4 lbs, so everyone should have an easy time operating it without fatigue setting in.

Best Robot Vacuums for Pet Hair

Neato BotVac

I’ve tried many different robot vacuums to try to find the perfect solution for my home, and by far the best option I have come across is the Neato Botvac line of products. It’s simply engineered better, from the hardware to the software. I’ll give you a quick rundown of all the things that make the Neato Botvacs the top choice.

Smarter Pathing

One of the biggest benefits I find from the Botvac is that it’s designed so much more intelligently when it comes to mapping out your rooms and cleaning them in a quick, efficient manner. Most other competitors like Roomba’s are incredibly dumb in how they move around a room, and basically just bounce from wall to wall randomly.

Check out the video below which illustrates the point perfectly. When running something like a Roomba, I often find there’s a higher likelihood that spots get missed.

 

 

 

 

 

Larger Cleaning Area

The BotVac line of products has the cleaning brush at the front of the unit, which means it spans nearly the entire device – almost 11″. Circle-style robot vacuum cleaners on the other hand like Roomba have their cleaning brushes between the wheels of their device, which means it covers a much smaller area, much further away from the edges of the device.

What this means for you is a BotVac will cover more ground quickly so it can get done running faster, and the BotVac will also do a much greater job at sucking cleaning areas closer to edges of walls, furniture, etc.

Bigger is Better

Continuing with the theme, the BotVac is also bigger than competitors in another places where it matters – the dirt collection bin, and the battery life. In a vacuum robot, when the dirt collection bin gets full, it does a really poor job at picking up any more pet hair and instead just pushes dirt and hair around. Most dirt bins are very tiny compared to any other kind of vacuum cleaner like an upright or stick, so having the largest dirt bin available is important.

Best Quiet Vacuum for Pets

Hoover Hush Tone

hush tone quiet vacuum

Let’s get one thing out of the way, the dream of a silent or truly quiet vacuum is one that just isn’t realized today. No readily available technology exists that silently sucks up debris around your home, so you need to set your expectations appropriately when seeking out a quiet vacuum cleaner. You have to keep in mind that “quiet” is relative.

With that being said, we can recommend the Hoover Hush Tone as the best quiet vacuum available on the market today. While your pets may not be in love with the sound it makes, it definitly is much more quiet and less startling than a traditional vacuum cleaner, so it may make a great improvement on the stress levels of your pet while you’re cleaning.

The Hush Tone is a canister vacuum cleaner which does collect dirt into a filter bag, which is great for those with allergies as it ensures everything stays trapped while you toss out your dirt. The capacity of the bags this vacuum uses are also massive, so a single bag will last you many vacuum sessions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *