10 best pet vacuum cleaners that tackle hair and dirt with ease

·11-min read
Having a pet calls for stronger suction action from your vacuum cleaner, as well as a good filter (The Independent / Getty Images)
Having a pet calls for stronger suction action from your vacuum cleaner, as well as a good filter (The Independent / Getty Images)

Pets add so much to our daily lives, from companionship to giving us the motivation to get out and exercise, however they also add to our workload around the house with the seemingly unlimited amount of hair that they leave in their wake.

Whether you’ve got a Collie, a tabby or even a guinea pig, when it comes to losing winter coats, pet hair will find its way into every nook and cranny and so a dedicated vacuum that will be able to handle the hair, from floor to furniture, as well as the usual household dust and debris is an absolute must.

We were on the lookout for vacuums, which were ergonomic and easy to operate with a good power to performance ratio – you want a product that has the juice to suck up anything in its path without being so powerful that the other components, like motorised brush heads and tubes, can’t keep up and get tangled and clogged as a result.

Pet vacuums need to be able to work equally well on a range of home surfaces so we tested ours on wooden floors, carpets, rugs, as well as furniture fabric and the obligatory pet beds and blankets. In addition to overall performance and suction power, a vacuum needs a well-designed collection bin that doesn’t add bulk or weight and is easily emptied.

Testing took place in a pet-packed household and included a dog bed test to see how efficiently a vacuum cleared the densest collections of hair as well as larger pieces of debris that pets are responsible for, like a chewed-up dog toy and tumbleweeds of fluff.

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As well as uprights and cordless stick vacuums (which you push), we included cylinder machines (which you pull behind you), as well as some robot vacuums with pet specific attributes, to come up with a comprehensive list to give you paws for thought.

The best pet vacuum cleaners for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Dyson V11 animal: £499, Currys.co.uk

  • Best cordless vacuum cleaner for pet hair – Miele triflex HX1: £479, Ao.com

  • Best corded vacuum cleaner for pet hair – Henry Harry pet: £169, Ao.com

  • Best shark vacuum cleaner for pet hair – Shark NZ801UKT: £249, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best robot vacuum cleaner – iRobot i7: £799.99, irobot.co.uk

  • Best for dog hair – Vax onepwr blade 4: £199, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best for large homes – Bissell smart clean pet: £249, Currys.co.uk

  • Best for suction – Shark IZ251UKT: £379, Currys.co.uk

  • Best for pet beds – Dyson heurist: £799.99, Dyson.co.uk

  • Best pet hair attachment – Hoover breeze BR71BR02: £79.99, Argos.co.uk

  • Best for easy cleaning – Gtech air ram MK2 K9: £249, Amazon.co.uk

Dyson V11 animal

Best: Overall

  • Type of machine: Cordless

  • Weight: 3.2kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.9l

  • Charge time: 4.5 hours

One of the first things we look for in a cordless is whether it’s light enough to lift with one hand and the V11’s weight makes it easy to use all over the home. The dust capacity is impressive for a cordless, but doesn’t make the vacuum feel cumbersome and didn’t stop us from getting into tight corners and under furniture

When it comes to suction the vacuum really is an animal, performing superbly on all surfaces and clearing up even the most matted sections of animal hair in just one sweep. It even managed to erase dried muddy paw prints from hard flooring. The machine also excelled at picking up fine dust, as well as hair, which is a bonus if someone in the household suffers from allergies. Thanks to a lot of clever tech (like dynamic load sensors in the floor head) and we didn’t experience any clogging issues either.

Buy now £499.00, Currys.co.uk

Miele triflex HX1

Best: Cordless vacuum cleaner for pet hair

  • Type of machine: Cordless

  • Weight: 4kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.5l

  • Charge time: 4 hours

This pet specific version of Miele’s cordless stick cleaner can be configured with the power unit at the top or the bottom of the wand, so you can adapt the ergonomics of the machine according to personal preference. It’s bagless and features a wide, spacious, motorised brush head that allowed the powerful suction to work optimally with zero clogging.

The German manufacturer includes a more compact brush head with longer bristles for more stubborn patches of hair, which is used in handheld mode and was perfectly suited to picking up hair on furniture, stairs and areas where pets sleep. Both heads have a headlight so you can see the effect the machine is having and also target your search for every last hair.

The dust container opens easily with a single twist and although there has been some criticism on the Miele website that dust gets stuck around the middle filter; we didn’t experience any problem during our test. The HX1 also features a self-standing function too that makes storing the cleaner a doddle.

Buy now £479.00, AO.com

Henry Harry pet

Best: Corded vacuum cleaner for pet hair

  • Type of machine: Cylinder

  • Weight: 8kg

  • Dust capacity: 9l

We’re all familiar with Henry, the corded vacuum favoured by the nation’s cleaners and builders, but they also do a pet specific version, which differs in that it comes equipped with what the manufacturer calls a “hairobrush”, designed to pick up pesky pet hairs. This teams well with the very impressive suction of the Harry to clean sweep even thick patches of hair on hard floors, carpets and pet beds. It’s easy to manoeuvre on robust rollers and the generous 10m cable means that Harry follows you around rooms like another loyal pet, albeit one that cleans up the mess rather than adding to it. The vacuumed material is collected in bags in the body of the machine, but it’ll be weeks before you have to entertain emptying the huge 9l capacity self-sealing bag.

Buy now £169.00, AO.com

Shark NZ801UKT

Best: Shark vacuum cleaner for pet hair

  • Type of machine: Upright

  • Weight: 6.5kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.83l

With an 8m cord this is a versatile machine with some nifty pet-related tricks up its sleeve. A soft roller works in conjunction with an anti-hair-wrap brush, which uses combs to catch longer hairs and send them to the bin rather than getting wrapped around the brush and causing problems. This system worked well, as did the lift away feature, which allows the cylinder to disconnect from the body of the vacuum allowing more flexibility to clear hair from hard to reach places around the home. It also worked really well with the additional pet power brush attachment. At the flick of a switch, you can select whether you’re cleaning hard floor or carpet with the brushes running faster to cope with the latter.

Buy now £249.00, Amazon.co.uk

iRobot i7

Best: Robot vacuum cleaner

  • ype of machine: Robot

  • Weight: 3.3kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.46l

  • Charge time: 2 hours

If you really want to take the work out of keeping your home hair-free then investing in a robot vacuum is the only choice. The combination of suction power, rubber encased foam rollers and a spinning three-pronged brush meant that the i7+ did a great job of clearing the floors right up to the edges and the machine had no problem going from hard floor to carpets and rugs. Robot vacuums can be a hassle to set up but this one simply goes about its business using a sensor to map out a floor plan of your home so that it can navigate effortlessly each time it goes out to clean.

The + in the i7’s name comes from a feature that means you won’t even have to empty the bin of the vacuum because it does this automatically, docking into something the company calls the clean base, which sucks the dirt out of the iRobot. That means you can set the machine going when you take the dogs for a walk and it’ll be totally clean by the time you get back – just in time for your pooches to dirty the place up again.

Buy now £799.99, iRobot.co.uk

Vax onepwr blade 4

Best: For dog hair

  • Type of machine: Cordless

  • Weight: 3.1kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.6l

  • Charge time: 2.5 hours

This cordless stick vacuum is lightweight with good ergonomics and includes an engineered floor head that is designed to make it easy to move from hard floor to carpet and back again without any dip in performance.

It breaks down easily into a handheld that can be fitted with a more compact motorised head that made short work of the hair left on the dog bed and easily cleaned stair treads in a single sweep. The removable bin is well sized for a stick vacuum and we didn’t have to wrestle with it to get it in and out of the machine.

Buy now £199.00, Amazon.co.uk

Bissell smart clean pet

Best: For large homes

  • Type of machine: Cylinder

  • Weight: 9.9kg

  • Dust capacity: 3l

The large wheels rolled easily over hard floors and up on to carpet. At the press of the button, the machine will adjust its power according to the kind of surface it’s cleaning and LEDs in the head light up the cleaning area. Suction was excellent and hair, mud and dirt were swept into the head even when it was close to edges or tackling obstacles like skirting boards and table legs.

The tangle free brush roll worked well and was still completely clear even after a week’s worth of use. The Bissell has 12m of cleaning reach if you factor in the 9m power cord and 3m hose so it’s easy to operate on large flat surfaces in the home, while the stairs can be covered using the extendable wand. A huge dirt bin (which is a doddle to empty) adds to the usability of the machine.

Buy now £249.00, Currys.co.uk

Shark IZ251UKT

Best: For suction

  • Type of machine: Cordless

  • Weight: 4.1kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.7l

  • Charge time: 3.5 hours

This Shark cordless product includes all the features that we liked from the NZ801UKT above, including anti hair wrap, and the true pet head that can be fixed on the machine when it’s in portable (handheld) mode. We were also impressed by the adaptability of this machine and the fact that the stick or wand was able to flex underneath low tables and sofas to maximise the coverage. Suction was up to the task, although there is a boost mode if needed.

Buy now £379.00, Currys.co.uk

Dyson heurist

Best: For pet beds

  • Type of machine: Robot

  • Weight: 2.5kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.33l

  • Charge time: 2.5 hours

Another robot vacuum that deserves inclusion for two reasons – it’s incredibly powerful and very able to go about its business without getting stuck, which is one of the main sticking points with lesser bots.

Easy to set up, the heurist uses the same “cyclone” tech that Dyson uses in its upright models, which provides impressive suction right into the corners of your home and along the edges. The tank track wheels, rather than the usual rollers, also help it to mount pet beds and leave them totally hair-free as well as ensuring that it doesn’t become grounded on squeaky play toys and bones as it continues on its way.

Buy now £799.99, Dyson.co.uk

Hoover breeze BR71BR02

Best: Pet hair attachment

  • Type of machine: Cylinder

  • Weight: 4.1kg

  • Dust capacity: 2l

We were really impressed by the performance of this bagless cylinder vacuum that was lightweight and easy to pull around, with a cleaning reach from the power socket of 6.5m that includes a 5m cord and a 1.5m hose. The pet turbo attachment features a brush that spins powerfully and managed to grab even the most stubborn patches of hair which is deposited efficiently into a dust bin that’s easily emptied.

Buy now £79.99, Argos.co.uk

Gtech air ram MK2 K9

Best: For easy cleaning

  • Type of machine: Cordless

  • Weight: 3.2kg

  • Dust capacity: 0.8l

  • Charge time: 4 hours

Gtech’s pet-geared cordless machine is very capable, with a rotating brush bar that works with the powerful suction to clear up carpets, flooring and areas that your pets patrol regularly. As you’d expect from the brand, the K9 is well-designed and the ergonomics are excellent making the 3.2kg machine easy to push around, with a low profile swivel handle that will get under all those hair traps, like sofas and coffee tables. Full width LED lights add to the functionality and we particularly liked the ejector arm in the dust-container, which makes it easy to point and shoot the contents into the bin.

Buy now £249.00, Amazon.co.uk

The verdict: Pet vacuum cleaners

For a real go-anywhere vacuum that will help you keep on top of the most hair-infested household, the Dyson V11 animal performed time and time again thanks to its versatility and incredible suction, which we even used to groom the dogs.

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