Not every vacuum cleaner can handle pet hair effectively. Many offer powerful suction that can easily pick up deeply embedded dirt, but hair — whether human or animal — can create nasty knots in vacuum rolling brushes.
The best vacuums for pet owners offer strong suction as well as rotating brushes that are designed to minimize, or even completely eliminate, hair tangles. They also come with additional attachments designed to clean fur and hair from sofas, carpeted stairs and other hard-to-reach places, plus sealed filtration systems that trap dander and other allergens.
There are tons of good vacuum cleaners on the market, with prices starting at under $100 up to around $1,000.
How much a vacuum costs depends largely on its suction power, filter quality and included attachments. Prices also vary widely from brand to brand, and whether you’re looking for an upright corded vacuum to deep clean carpets, a lightweight cordless model for quick cleanups, or a robot vacuum that’s good for everyday maintenance — hopefully without frightening your furry friend.
Buying guide for vacuums for pet hair
These are some of the factors to consider when shopping for the best vacuum for pet-parent needs:
• Pet-specific vacuums. Some vacuums include the term “pet” in their name — like the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus, our pick for Best for Low Prices. These pet-specific models typically include cleaning attachments, like brushes and mini motorized tools, that can help get hair off upholstery. But these vacuums don’t necessarily offer more suction or higher-quality filters.
Other models — like our Best Overall pick, the Shark Vertex DuoClean — aren’t branded as pet-specific yet have strong suction, anti-tangle brushes and even cleaning attachments for pet hair.
• Rolling brush design. All vacuums have a type of rolling brush with bristles or rubber wipers that pick up dirt as it zooms around your home. The problem is that hairs, especially long ones, can easily tangle around this brush (or around the wheels near it). Not only are these knots hard to remove, they can also cause blockages that weaken suction and prevent debris from passing through.
To solve this issue some manufacturers have designed brushes to resist tangles, even from human hair. These rollers are typically described as “self-cleaning,” “anti-tangle” or “tangle-free” in product descriptions and are better at preventing knots than the ones on other vacuums.
• Vacuum type. The most popular vacuums for cleaning pet hair are upright, cordless and robot models.
Upright corded vacuums are excellent for homes with carpeting. They tend to offer more suction power compared to cordless models, hence a deeper clean. However, corded vacuums can weigh around 15 pounds, making them harder to carry up flights of stairs, for example.
Cordless vacuums, which obviously offer the convenience of being cord-free, used to fall short in terms of suction capacity when compared to upright models. Nowadays, though, some cordless models can deep clean any floor in a single pass — even thick carpets.
They're lightweight too, usually weighing between 3 to 10 pounds, making them easier to carry, store and maneuver than corded models.
However, although cordless vacuums have improved, only the really top-of-the-line models — those in the $400 and higher price range — offer the same suction power you would get from a much cheaper upright vacuum that costs $300 or less.
Roombas and other robot vacuums cruise around your home with the press of a button or on a set schedule, helping you keep up with the never-ending shedding of pet hair. Although convenient, these probably won’t clean as deeply as upright or cordless models.
Their dust bins can fill up quite quickly, especially when picking up pet hair. And if the robot keeps running with a full dust bin, its suction weakens. In homes with mostly carpeted floors, they can have some trouble cleaning embedded hair and dust.
Then there are the self-emptying robot models, which are more convenient for truly painless vacuuming. These come with a docking/cleaning station that the vacuum returns to and where it automatically empties its dust bin. Unsurprisingly, these are among the most expensive vacuums, costing upwards of $600.
• Adjustable suction. Vacuums with different suction settings are a must for pet owners with different types of flooring in their home. Increasing the power on carpeted areas, for example, guarantees a deeper clean, necessary when picking up embedded hair.
Some high-end vacuums self-adjust their suction by gauging just how dirty the floor is or whether they’re gliding over hard floors or carpets. These usually cost close to $500 or more. Cheaper models also feature two or three suction settings for bare floors and low- or high-pile carpets, which you can change with a button located near the vacuum’s handle.
Some models also include a boost trigger, perfect for when you need some extra power on tough spots.
• Dust bin and filter. If you have a big home and multiple pets (or ones that shed a lot), you should consider the size of the vacuum’s dust bin. A small dust bin can fill up quickly, which can in turn cause clogs and reduce the vacuum’s suction power.
Upright models typically have a larger dust bin (also called dust canister) than portable vacuums. The bins on upright models average a capacity of around 0.5 gallons, while they're between 0.1 to 0.2 gallons in a typical cordless vacuum.
Besides the dust bin, consider the quality of the filter. Pet hair and dander can cause sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes even for people who don’t suffer from allergies. Pet owners can benefit from models with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These models are completely sealed and prevent allergens from spilling back into the room once they enter the dust bin.
Best vacuums for pet hair
1. Best overall: Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean
The Vertex DuoClean is one of the most powerful upright corded vacuums around, delivering strong suction that can clean pet hair with ease.
The vacuum features three suction levels and a dual-roller system designed to clean all types of flooring in a single pass. One of its rotating rollers creates an excellent seal on hard floors and can pick up larger debris like cereal without pushing it around. The second roller has what Shark calls PowerFins, which are silicone wipers that can dig deep into carpets and prevent both pet and human hair from getting tangled.
In addition to the floor-cleaning head, the Vertex includes a dusting brush, crevice tool and a pet power brush. The pet power brush easily removes embedded pet hair and dander from upholstery, curtains, car interiors and more.
To use this tool, simply press a button on the dust bin to separate it from the vacuum’s body. This turns the Vertex into a handheld unit with a 5.5’ flexible hose that’s perfect for cleaning higher areas or tight spaces, like stairs.
The Vertex is also an excellent option for allergy sufferers. Its dust bin has HEPA filtration and is completely sealed to keep allergens and dust from spilling back into the air.
2. Editor’s pick: Shark ZU62 Navigator Zero-M Pet Pro
Although not quite as powerful as the Shark Vertex DuoClean, Shark’s upright corded Navigator Zero-M Pet Pro still delivers excellent suction — and, at around $250, it costs nearly $200 less.
The Navigator has just enough power to deep-clean pet hair, even from thick carpets. It also features Shark’s Zero-M, a comb-like structure between the rotating roller and the vacuum’s airway that separates hairs as they’re picked up, preventing strands from wrapping around the roller.
Like the Vertex, the Navigator offers a sealed HEPA filtration system. It also has a 12’ extendable hose for cleaning attachments and, while it doesn’t include a pet hair tool for upholstery, you can buy one for around $30 from Shark.
3. Best for low prices: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus
Vacuums under $200 usually don’t have the strongest suction. But for around $180, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus does a pretty good job at picking up pet hair without it getting knotted up in the roller.
It includes a pet hair tool that resists hair tangles and attaches to the vacuum's extendable hose to clean pet hair from furniture. It handles long human hair fairly well too.
The filtration system on this upright corded Bissell vacuum isn’t completely sealed or HEPA-grade, so some microscopic dust could seep back into the room as you vacuum. However, if you don’t have allergies or asthma, this shouldn’t be a problem.
4. Best cordless vacuum for pet hair: Dyson V15 Detect
Dyson’s makes the most powerful cordless vacuums in the market, and the V15 is the company’s best yet. While plug-in upright vacuums typically have stronger suction and can provide a deeper clean (especially on carpets), the V15 easily matches or even outperforms some of those.
The V15 picks up everything from fine dust to long pet hair with ease. It offers three suction settings — Eco, Auto and Boost — and the Auto mode is the most impressive and useful. In this setting, the vacuum uses a built-in sensor to detect how much dirt it's picking up as well as the size of the particles. The vacuum then adjusts its suction based on how dirty an area is. This self-adjustment guarantees the deepest clean possible while optimizing battery life — in fact, the battery can last around an hour depending on how dirty your floors are.
The V15 comes with 10 cleaning attachments, including an anti-tangle brush for pet hair, a soft dusting brush and a crevice tool.
5. Best cordless vacuum for pet hair runner-up: Dyson V11 Animal
The V11 is Dyson’s second best cordless model. In terms of suction power, it’s a smidge under the V15 but still well above other cordless vacuums under $400.
Like the V15, the V11 has three suction settings: Eco, Auto and Boost. Eco and Boost mode are the weakest and strongest settings, respectively. Similar to the V15, Auto mode allows the V11 to self-adjust suction as you clean. However, instead of using a dust-particle sensor, the V11 detects the type of floor (hard or carpet) it’s gliding on to adjust its suction accordingly.
The V11 retails for $600 (around $100 less than the V15), and aside from how they adjust suction, both models have a similar design, weight and battery life. The V11 doesn’t include Dyson’s anti-tangle hair tool, but it does have a mini motorized tool that’s ideal for removing deeply embedded pet hair.
6. Best budget cordless vacuum for pet hair: Tineco A11 Hero
Dyson cordless vacuums may be impressive, but their prices are definitely steep. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Tineco A11 Hero is an excellent choice.
For around $220, the A11 Hero runs more quietly than other vacuums in this price range and packs plenty of power in its three suction settings. It includes several cleaning attachments like a dusting brush, a crevice tool, a hair cleaning tool and a mini power brush to remove pet hair from furniture.
Although the battery on the A11 Hero lasts only about 30 minutes, it comes with a second battery pack so you can switch between them and avoid running out of power in the middle of a cleaning session. The vacuum’s base can store the unit and cleaning attachments, and it can charge both batteries at the same time.
7. Best robot vacuum for pet hair: iRobot Roomba i7+
For households with multiple pets, or just one pet that sheds a whole lot, a robot vacuum could ease your cleaning load. But not all robot vacuums are equipped to handle hair embedded in carpet floors. Their dust bins can also fill up pretty quickly and cause the robot to lose suction power.
The iRobot Roomba i7+ can handle both of these issues, providing impressive suction capacity and a self-cleaning system. It includes Roomba’s Clean Base, a charging dock that doubles as a dirt bin. Every time the robot's dust bin is full, the i7+ will automatically make its way to the Clean Base where the contents get sucked into a disposable vacuum bag. Once the bin is empty, the i7+ will continue cleaning where it left off.
This system is ideal for people with allergies or asthma. Since there’s no need for you to empty the robot on a daily basis and the bags in the Clean Base are disposable, there’s minimal contact with allergens. (Replacement bags come in packs of three for around $15, and each one usually takes over a month to fill up.)
The i7+ has smart mapping features that use a camera to scan your home and learn the surroundings. Once the robot has learned your floor plan and furniture placement, you can use the iRobot Home app to tell it which rooms to clean. You can also use voice commands with Alexa or Google Assistant to, say, tell the i7+ to clean your kitchen and dining room.