The best vacuum cleaners for pet hair is an important subject for pet owners. If you have a dog or a cat living in the home then loose hair is something you’ll be all too familiar with. There’s simply no escaping the fact that most dog and cat breeds shed hair on a regular basis and even more so in spring and autumn. Aside from being unsightly, all that hair floating about can also create problems for allergy sufferers.
Unless you have one of the poodle breeds (which don’t shed hair), you may only notice the hair gathering in the corners and skirting boards. But where there’s one small bundle, there’s a whole lot more scattered across the floors. Carpets usually disguise the fact (unless you have a black dog and pale carpets) but try wrapping a present on the pile and chances are the recipient will be receiving more than just a gift.
What you need is a decent vacuum cleaner that’s been designed with pet hair in mind. Granted, most vacuum cleaners make a fair fist of picking up hair, dander and dust but some models do it much better, like this merry bunch of fine contenders from the likes of Dyson, Miele and Shark.
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1. Dyson v11 Animal: Best overall vacuum cleaner for pet-hair collection
Dyson v11 Animal
Tackles hard floors, carpets, sofas and confined areas with effortless aplomb
Type: Cordless stick | Dust collector: Bagless | Weight: 2.97kgs | Run time: Up to 60 mins | Operating radius: Infinite
If you’ve ever used a cordless lawnmower, you’ll know how unbelievably quick it is to set up and get the job done. Well the same thing applies to vacuum cleaners. Since there are no cables involved, you’ll be surprised by the effortless efficiency of cordless vacuuming.
The ultra powerful Dyson v11 Animal tackles hard floors, carpets, sofas and confined areas with effortless aplomb. Aside from the four supplied hand brushes and nozzles – including an excellent mini motorised hand tool for pet beds, sofas and car seats – this high-tech super vac also comes with a motorised Direct Drive brush head with spinning bristles made from carbon fibre and nylon for maximum deep cleaning power.
Granted, the v11 Animal isn’t cheap to buy, but in our test its brush head collected a commendable amount of pet matter on both hard and carpeted floors. When used in Eco mode – ideal for hard floors and shelving – it ran for the advertised 60 minutes. However, we’d advise using Auto mode most of the time, which adjusts the suction rate according to the floor surface. When switched to boost mode, it sucked as strong as a mains-powered vacuum though the battery did deplete in about 15 minutes.
The v11 Animal’s bin emptying mechanism is über cool – just flip down the red latch and the small 0.76-litre bin jolts downwards, ejecting all the carpet matter in one fell swoop. Just be sure to do it with the unit deep inside your kitchen bin or all that ejected dust may cause a sneezing fit. Speaking of which, the v11 Animal also comes with a superb six-stage filtration system that traps 99.97% of dust and pollen particles as small as 0.3 microns. It also keeps that musty just-vacuumed smell to a bare minimum.
As with all stick-style vacs, the V11 Animal doesn’t stand up on its own so storing it is a bit of a faff unless you use the supplied wall mount-cum-charger cradle. That aside, this is unequivocally the best all-round cordless vac for pet owners. It’s light in the hand, effortless to use and capable of performing every cleaning task in the home, from floor to ceiling.
2. Gtech AirRam Mk2 K9: Best budget cordless upright pet vac for carpet and hard floors
Gtech AirRam Mk 2 K9
Collects more hair on carpets than any other vac we’ve ever tried
Type: Cordless upright | Dust collector: Bagless | Weight: 3.5kgs | Run time: 40 mins | Operating radius: Infinite
This clever cordless upright is one of the very best pet vacs for carpets. Since all the weight’s at floor level, the Gtech AirRam Mk2 K9 feels very light to push around and, because it’s an upright, it’s an absolute doddle to store. The K9’s adjustable dual-height handle articulates in all directions for steering round corners and getting the machine’s very low-profile brush head under beds and other shallow furnishings.
This writer tried the K9 out on a hard kitchen floor and a dog-hair strewn carpet and it collected more dirt and hair than I thought possible. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it collects more hair on carpets than any other vac I’ve ever tried, both corded and cordless.
Although the K9’s cylindrical dust bin is only 0.80 litres in capacity, its clever compacting system enables it to hold a remarkably large amount of dust and hair. The emptying system, too, is one of the best on the market. Simply flip the end hatch open and slide the lever across the full length of the container to eject literally everything in one big clump. The system is so effective that you will never need to reach in with fingers to remove any obstreperous clumps – a common anomaly with many bagless vacs.
Another great thing about this vac is that it’s equipped with a bright LED headlamp which allows the user to see the dust and hair ahead, even in the darkest room. In my opinion, all vacs should be fitted with LEDs.
The K9 performs exceptionally well on both carpets and hard floors but it struggles on thin Persian-style rugs. As the fast-spinning rotary brush is positioned at a low, unadjustable height, it literally snatches some rugs and then stops dead for a few seconds while the motor cools down.
Given that it’s an upright design, this vac doesn’t come with any hand tools so you will need to use a separate hand-held vac if you want to clean in corners and sweep shelves, sofas and cobwebs off the ceiling. Nevertheless, for the sheer instant practicality of grabbing a vac to give the room a quick effortless whizz, the Gtech AirRam Mk2 K9 is in a class of its own.
3. Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Pro PowerLine - SGEF3: Best pet-specific corded vacuum cleaner
Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Pro PowerLine - SGEF3
This machine is a master in all disciplines
Type: Corded cylinder | Dust collector: Bagged | Weight: 7kgs | Power: 890w | Operating radius: 12m
If you’re after long-term reliability, robust build quality and outright efficiency, you can’t go wrong with this excellent mains-powered cylinder vac from Miele. Granted, it isn’t as practical for day-to-day use as a cordless model – you will need to plug it in, possibly several times if vacuuming a large house – but it makes up for that with an extra long, automatically retractable 8.5-metre cable.
The Complete C3 is equipped with six suction modes: a gentle reverse waft for cleaning shelves and electronic equipment to a massive 890 watts of suction power which is literally capable of sucking carpet off the floor.
This mean machine comes with two main floor heads. The stiff-bristled head is excellent on hard floors but the friction it creates makes it hard going on carpet. The revolving Turbo brush head, on the other hand, performs superbly well on all types of flooring and is unquestionably the best head to use if you have pets in the home. This brush head picked up a remarkable amount of pet hair and stuffed it all away in the C3’s large 4.5-litre dust bag (a very reasonable £10 for four). Naturally, emptying it was a dustless breeze.
Unlike most vacs which are made almost entirely from cheaper injection-moulded plastics, the Complete C3’s main body is constructed out of ultra-tough resin-based plastic. Its fabulously adjustable suction tube, meanwhile, is cast out of metal for extra durability.
Granted, at 7kgs the Miele Complete C3 is quite heavy to pull around but this machine is a master in all disciplines, whether it’s collecting the remnants of a dog brushing session or gently removing cobwebs from the chandelier. For a Miele product, it isn’t too expensive either.
4. Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ251UKT: Best cordless vac for tangle-free cleaning
A unique stick vac that comes with a plethora of excellent features
Type: Cordless stick | Dust collector: Bagless | Weight: 4.1kgs | Run time: Up to 80 mins | Operating radius: Infinite
Shark is one of the most popular brands in vac land, and one of the cheapest. This unique stick vac comes with a plethora of excellent features, including a foldable suction tube that allows it to be stored in an upright position. This is a major plus because most other stick vacs need to be stored in a jumble under the stairs or on a wall mount which is a faff to install. Another cool thing about the foldable tube is that it can be articulated at 90˚ for cleaning deep under low furnishings and shallow beds.
Most stick vacs give up the ghost after about 60 minutes of cleaning but this one comes with two batteries – and a dual charger – that take the running time to a substantial 80 minutes. That’s an exceptionally long operating time for a cordless vac, so if you have a large home and wish to switch from corded to cordless, then this may be the model for you.
The Shark’s revolving brush head is also notable for having a row of prongs that prevent long hair and cotton thread from wrapping around the two rollers; a boon for anyone fed up with constantly having to remove the rollers in order to untangle them. The easy-to-steer head is also equipped with bright LED headlights which genuinely help highlight all evidence of dust and hair ahead.
Being a pet specific model, the Shark comes with a wide range of attachments for use in hand-held mode. Aside from the usual collection of detail tools, it also ships with an excellent revolving pet tool which makes a very fair fist of removing hair from dog beds and sofas.
In the pantheon of cordless stick vacs this shrewd model excels in all areas: it’s excellent on carpets, outstanding on hard floors and this writer was extremely impressed by its exceptional running time. For a stick vac with so many features and additions, it’s keenly priced, too.
5. iRobot Roomba i7+ (i7558): Best robot vac with automatic dirt disposal
iRobot Roomba i7 Plus
The pet hair vacuum that empties itself
Type: Cordless Robotic | Dust collector: Bagged | Weight: N/A | Run time: 90 mins between charges | Operating radius: Defined by app
Normally this writer would advise against autonomous robot vacuum cleaners for pet owners, simply because the volume of hair collected in any given day will likely exceed the model’s dust capacity. But the iRobot Roomba i7 is a different kettle of fish because, amazingly, it empties itself automatically, ejecting its contents – via suction – into a large collection bin which also serves as the charging base. This is a groundbreaking innovation that provides a completely automated experience with zero human input – simply remove the disposable dust bag every few weeks and pop in a new one.
Since this vac is equipped with a touch sensor and forward-facing camera, it will avoid all obstacles bar, perhaps, a pair of stray socks, and spend all day zipping up and down the living room in a linear pattern. It’s also clever enough to avoid stairs and other drop-offs. For extra peace of mind, the i7 ships with a virtual wall/obstacle sensor that creates an invisible barrier to prevent the unit from going near sensitive areas like your pet’s water bowl. With the accompanying iRobot Home app (iOS/Android) you can view its cleaning history, see whether it’s trapped under a piece of furniture, set a series of schedules – from single clean to a weekly routine – or programme it to clean certain rooms on specific days.
The i7’s battery lasts about 25 minutes on hard floors and a bit less on thicker carpets but this is of no real consequence because it’ll simply return to its charging base whenever the battery is nearing depletion. However, despite being fitted with a long horizontally spinning brush that flings debris into the path of its rollers and suction area, the circular shape of the i7 means it will have trouble collecting debris in the corners of a room.
In our test the Roomba i7 performed surprisingly well on both carpets and hard floors but, like most roller-type vacs, it did struggle on a thin rug. On the plus side, this writer was impressed by the filter system, which is said to capture 99% of dust, mites, pollen and pet allergens.
If you’re simply too busy to be messing about with vacuum cleaners and want to keep pet hair inundation to a bare minimum without lifting a finger, then the Roomba i7 comes highly recommended.
6. Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Another great corded cylinder vac for pet hair removal
Dyson Big Ball Animal 2
The Tangle-free Turbine tool can perform miracles on pet hair removal
Type: Corded cylinder | Dust collector: Bagless | Weight: 7.5kgs | Power: 180AW | Operating radius: 10.4m
At 7.5kgs in weight the mains-powered Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 is hefty to carry but thankfully its giant integrated wheels make it easy to tow along. And should it tip over when pulled over a door sill (a common occurrence with cylinder vacs), it will self right itself immediately.
Although it doesn’t sport the same level of cord-free practicality as the Dyson v11 Animal, the Big Ball Animal 2 does at least have a substantial reach of 10.4 metres when figuring in the length of the hose and the 6.5m self-retracting cable (when finished, simply yank the cable and it’s automatically pulled back into its housing).
The Dyson’s non-motorised, self-adjusting 10-inch Pneumatic head is fitted with a front row of squeegees that are best suited to hard floors and thin pile carpets. However, you may need to engage the head’s suction reduction switch on some carpets to make it easier to push. The smaller eight-inch motorised Turbine head is the better option for pet owners and is as good on carpets as it is on hard floors. This head is equipped with alternate rows of carbon and nylon brushes that dig deep to loosen dirt while scooping up evidence of pet fur. However, you may need to perform a few extra back and forth sweeps to fully complete the task.
For true pet hair removal albeit on a smaller scale, the Big Ball Animal 2’s piece de resistance is the quick-release Tangle-free Turbine tool. Measuring just five inches in width, this hand-held wonder tool is comprised of two counter rotating circular brushes that perform a miraculous task on dog beds, sofas and that most obstreperous of nylon fabrics normally used for car seats. The final two tools – stair and combination brush/nozzle – clip to the hose handle for instant access when required.
If you’re a Dyson van and don’t mind towing a vacuum cleaner around behind you, then this is a model worth pursuing. Despite being cumbersome to store, it’s easy to use, very efficient on hard floors and decent enough on carpets. However, it’s the small Tangle-free Turbine tool that really made the best impression.
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