A decent vacuum is a must-have household item, but it becomes even more important if you own a pet. Whether it’s a dog, cat or Abyssinian guinea pig, they will undoubtedly add to your cleaning workload whether it’s via muddy paws, spilled food or the tumbleweeds of hair that are continually rolling past you in the living room. That’s why you will need a vacuum that is able to generate enough power and versatility that it can keep on top of the trail your pet leaves behind.
Usually, when a vacuum is specifically marketed with our four-legged friends in mind, it means the model comes with an attachment tailored to tidying up after them, whether that’s an upholstery brush attachment or brush bar designed not to get clogged and tangled.
However, we didn’t limit our search to just those models and have also included general household vacuums and robotic vacuums that just happened to be very good at dealing with the mess that comes with a household that includes pets. We found that robotic vacuums are particularly effective because they can run constantly and, as a bonus, the reaction of some pets to robot vacuums is priceless.
In each case, we were looking for powerful models that would suck up hair and clean muddy paw prints, but crucially we wanted the vacuum to be able to process the hair all the way to the dust canister, without getting clogged and tangled, and we needed the machines to work on different surfaces, from hard floors to carpets. When cleaning up after pets, the dust canister will fill quickly with all the hair, so the process of emptying has to be straightforward and efficient, so that all the contents end up in the bin without consuming you in a cloud.
As well as this, the products needed the same attributes we would look for in general-purpose vacuums, like manoeuvrability around furniture-filled floors and, for cordless models, enough working time to be able to make a difference before having to be put back on charge. We found that there was plenty of choice out there, but here’s our pick of the litter.
How we tested
Testing took place in a pet-packed house (two dogs, one cat) and included a pet bed test to see how efficiently a vacuum cleared the densest collections of hair, as well as the larger pieces of debris that pets are responsible for, like chewed-up dog toy bits, cat litter and balls of fluff.
We were cleaning a large open plan area which had a mixture of hard floors, rugs, mats and some carpeted areas and all the robotic vacuums were set a makeshift obstacle course to see how they dealt with pet toys left around the floor, as well as how they coped mounting, cleaning and not getting stuck on thick dog beds.
The best pet vacuum cleaners for 2022 are:
Best overall pet vacuum cleaner – Vax onepwr blade 4 pet vacuum cleaner: £369.99, Vax.co.uk
Best robotic pet vacuum cleaner – iRobot roomba S9+: £1,299, Irobot.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for deep cleaning – Dyson v15 detect absolute: £629.99, Dyson.co.uk
Best corded pet vacuum cleaner – Hoover telios extra TX5OPET: £99.99, Currys.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for wet waste – Henry George: £249, Currys.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for suction – Beko powerclean: £209, Currys.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for versatility – Gtech pro 2 k9: £249.99, Gtech.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for hard floors – Shark ICZ300UKT: £299.99, Sharkclean.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for quiet cleaning – Bissell smartclean pet vacuum cleaner: £249.97, Currys.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for ergonomics – Miele triflex HX1 pet vacuum cleaner: £499, Miele.co.uk
Best pet vacuum cleaner for AI – iRobot roomba j7+: £699, Irobot.co.uk
Vax onepwr blade 4 pet vacuum cleaner
The general performance of the blade 4 was excellent, clearing large open areas of carpet, rug and hard floor with minimal effort, but it had one of the best motorised pet tools on test, which was powerful enough to clear dog and cat beds of hair without us having to wrestle with the bed to keep it from being sucked into the head itself.
Nicely balanced and lightweight with good controls, the suction was one of the best we tested and we didn’t experience any dips in performance while cleaning. The removable dust canister means that you can aim the contents directly into the bin and give it a shake, making it less likely to make a mess, and we didn’t have to continually use our fingers to work the contents out.
Vax advertises 45min of run time from the battery, but we managed to get almost an hour, and the thing we really liked about it was its removable battery, so rather than having no choice but to put the whole unit back on charge when the battery ran out, you could just switch it out for a replacement and keep on cleaning. That means you get the power and cleaning time of a corded machine, with the versatility of a handheld.
Buy now £369.99, Vax.co.uk
iRobot roomba S9+
If you’re a pet owner with a serious aversion to hair, you can justify the price tag on the S9+, because you’ll probably never have to worry about it again – as long as your pets are confined to the floor and not the furniture, of course.
The most powerful robotic vacuum we’ve ever tested will process hair wherever it finds it on its very methodical route around your rooms. It will map out your floor plan and return to areas that routinely collect more hair than others.
The S9+ was versatile enough to suck up cat litter that had been tracked out of the tray, as well as hard dog food that had been spilled from the bowl. You can also draw boxes around certain zones, like full dog bowls of water, to make them no-go areas for the bot, so you don’t come home to more mess.
The vacuum performed very well on the obstacle course too, mounting dog beds and cleaning them without getting grounded and never getting snagged on the many doggy booby traps that were laid out in its path.
There have been some comments that hair gets caught on the S9+’s rubber rollers that run almost the entire length of the bot’s leading edge, but we never really had this problem because the suction from the motor seemed so impressive. The self-emptying dustbin means that it can fill up quickly and still operate – it will just return to the dock, empty itself into the bin and head out again.
Buy now £1299.00, Irobot.co.uk
Dyson v15 detect absolute
The tornado-like power of the v15 animal was really impressive and it lifted hair on both carpet and hard floors with one sweep, without having to continually go over the same area and waste battery.
We achieved just over an hour on the machine’s eco mode, which can be extended if you have alternating removable batteries, so battery life shouldn’t be an issue even for homes with multiple pets.
You have to keep the power button pressed to operate the v5, but this also makes it very efficient in terms of conserving a full charge, so you’re only calling on the battery when you need it.
The big selling point for pet owners is the laser (safe for humans and pets) on the hard floor cleaning head, which highlights microscopic dust particles, like pet dander, that you wouldn’t normally see on your cleaning rounds.
We didn’t suffer any hair tangles, largely thanks to a high-torque cleaning head, that literally shreds longer pet hairs as it picks them up, and a hair screw tool, with bristles angled at 45 degrees, that automatically moves pet hair directly towards the intake.
An efficient bin-emptying mechanism also meant that everything collected ends up in the waste, rather than on the floor.
Buy now £629.99, Dyson.co.uk
Hoover telios extra TX5OPET
Even when it’s plugged into a socket you will get a generous 10m working radius from the pet-focused telios, and it rolls well over hard and carpeted floors, so you don’t feel like you’re constantly in a battle with it to manoeuvre it into position.
As with many corded machines, the Hoover is very powerful and you won’t have to worry about any dips in performance as you work your way around the floor.
Accessories are all stored away in the machine itself and switching is effortless, including the turbo pet nozzle which gave sofas and rugs caked in hair a deep clean that left them completely clear and free from fuzz.
The Hoover is sufficiently powerful to ensure that even high concentrations of hair are sucked through into the bin without clogging the telescopic tube, which makes this a great choice for pet owners living in large open-plan spaces, or in flats where you don’t have to worry about unplugging and going upstairs.
Buy now £99.99, Currys.co.uk
These cylinder vacuums with their own personalities have always featured in our pet vacuum line-ups because of their superior suction, and the George is no different. It was able to give carpets clogged with hair a real deep clean and the quick switch on top of the vacuum head means that it’s ready to do the same on hard floors in an instant.
However, where George can really help out is with the wet suction capacity, which means that if you’re puppy training, it can hoover up any accidents or even get rid of wet paw marks that are all over the floor.
The big capacity bags take 15l before they have to be changed and the dirt is trapped inside the bag so you won’t create a mess when you do have to.
The George does have a sizeable footprint, but with zero clogging, plenty of rolling manoeuvrability and a massive 27m cleaning range, it’s a super versatile machine that can handle a wide range of pet-related cleaning tasks.
Buy now £249.00, Currys.co.uk
With one of the best suction performances on test for a cordless, the powerclean effortlessly cleaned carpets and rugs of thick dog hair in double sweeps.
Swapping out the rollers to go from hard floors to carpet was very easy – the hard floor head is essentially a soft roller that picks up long hair really well while managing to remain tangle free, while the turbo brush for carpets is also designed in such a way that it never clogs.
There are three intensities, which can be toggled up and down from the hand unit. The highest setting is very powerful and deals with cat litter, hair, dog food and is even powerful enough to act as a suction stick for picking up dog toys from the floor, if you want to save yourself the backache.
The dustbin will fill quickly, but the emptying process is efficient, so you can just make a quick trip to the bin, release the latch and shake the contents in without skipping a beat.
Battery life was sufficient to cover all the testing areas and there is a nice little self-stand function, which means you can free stand the vacuum, so you can move dog beds etc. without having to find a place to prop it up.
Buy now £209.00, Currys.co.uk
Gtech pro 2 k9
This stick vacuum from Gtech has bags of suction and a very efficient cleaning system that picks up larger pieces of household debris as you push the vacuum away from you and pet hair as you bring it back towards you.
Speaking of bags of suction, rather than a dust canister, everything the vacuum picks up goes into a bag, making disposal very efficient. The bags cost £14.99 for a pack of 10, which the manufacturer says is sufficient for a home with pets cleaned three times a week.
There are two suction settings and we think that Gtech has been a little economical with the advertised run time on each setting, as we got almost 50 minutes of work on eco mode (rather than 40) and almost half an hour when the vacuum was on its most powerful setting, but this might have been because we were vacuuming more on hard floors, compared to a fully carpeted house.
The pro 2 k9 breaks down into a handheld easily, with no loss in suction, so you can clean up the stairs and get into tight corners where hair accumulates.
As an extra, pet-related feature, the pro 2 k9 also features scented cartridges that you slot into the filter to mask any “wet dog” odours.
Buy now £249.99, Gtech.co.uk
This is a really well thought out vacuum, packed with pet-specific innovations and backed up with powerful and reliable suction that’s well suited for both short and long pet hair.
The duoclean floor head means that you don’t have to worry about a loss of performance when you move from hard floor to carpeted areas, because the brushes will run faster at the click of a switch on the LED display to cope with the fact that carpet is harder to clean.
Shark has fitted the brush head with flexible silicone fins rather than traditional brushes, which makes the vacuum much less prone to tangling without affecting the ability to pick up hair, while the soft front brush roll makes short work of any muddy paw prints on hard flooring.
The lift away feature allows the cylinder to disconnect from the body of the vacuum, giving more flexibility to clear hair from hard-to-reach places, like stairs and furniture, and the motorised pet tool was easy to use and there was no loss in suction when fitted. Bin emptying was clean and quick and you can extend the run time with another battery, although one charge powered it for just over an hour on the medium suction setting.
Buy now £299.99, Sharkclean.co.uk
Bissell smartclean pet vacuum cleaner
Our pick of the pet range from Bissell, this canister vacuum has excellent cleaning power and had no problem removing hair and debris from hard floors and carpet without having to change cleaning heads, thanks to the vacuum’s ability to adjust the power of the brush roll according to the surface.
The tangle-free brush roll worked well and the vacuum had a nice hum about it so it won’t scare any timid pets who usually slink away to the farthest corner as soon as they see the vacuum come out.
Canisters can be a little cumbersome, but the Bissell was easy to wheel around and we really liked the integrated brush tool that pulls away from the power head, so that you can pick up hair from sofas, chairs and stairs.
The dirt canister also clips out so you can place it down into your bin and stop any unwanted mess.
Buy now £249.97, Currys.co.uk
Miele triflex HX1 pet vacuum cleaner
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 4kg in weight, bagless and features a wide, spacious, motorised brush head that allows 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 we used in handheld mode and was perfectly suited to picking up hair on furniture, stairs and areas where pets sleep.
However, if you don’t have pets on your furniture you could probably do without this brush head and save yourself £100 by going for the standard HX1 model (£449, Miele.co.uk).
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 the trial.
Buy now £499.00, Miele.co.uk
iRobot roomba j7+
This slightly more affordable robotic option from Roomba boasts some genuinely pet-friendly AI in the shape of the brand’s latest software update for the machine, which means that the j7+ will just get smarter over time.
You can tailor how the bot cleans according to where your pets sleep or where the high traffic areas are, so you can programme it to take an extra pass around the dog beds or where they eat their meals.
The j7+ also neatly skirts one of the problems with robotic vacuums in pet households, which is that larger animals can accidentally start the machine if they bump the clean button. However, there is now a pet lock available through the app so that the vacuum stays put.
The software also updates the Roomba’s already impressive visual vocabulary to include solid pet waste – unfortunately, a pooper scooper function is yet to be added to the machine.
On top of all of this, the j7+ has plenty of suction, is self-emptying and has superb manoeuvrability over pet-related obstacles, which means you can leave the machine to clean when you go out and return to a clean home.
Buy now £699.00, Irobot.co.uk
The verdict: Pet vacuum cleaners
Whether you’ve got just one pet or a menagerie, the Vax onepwr blade 4 pet is an affordable complete cleaning option that combines the power and cleaning time of a corded machine with the versatility of a handheld, making it our top pick.
To snap up our favourite Shark vacuums for a bargain price, check out our guide to the best Shark hoover deals