best in class

The 9 Very Best Vacuums for Pet Hair

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

Pet fur has the habit of clinging like glue, especially to upholstered chairs and velvety couch cushions. You could use one of those removal rollers, but the easiest solution is a fur-guzzling vacuum. In addition to sucking up any shedding, a machine should tidy up (without getting tangled with hair) and work fast, especially if you have a skittish pet who hides whenever it’s on. To find the best vacuums for pet owners, we asked trainers, veterinarians, and notable animal people for their favorites. You’ll also see a few recommendations our own Strategist staffers swear by to keep their spaces fur free (or as close to that as humanly possible).

Best overall | Best less expensive | Best for carpets and hardwood floorsBest (less expensive) pet vacuum for carpets and hardwood floors | Best cordless | Best for heavy shedders | Best robot | Best (less expensive) robot | Best handheld

What we’re looking for

Cordless versus corded: A cordless vacuum relies on a battery rather than an outlet, while one with a cord can run for longer, which is convenient for when your carpet is in need of a deep clean. You should consider the size of your space when deciding between the two. (Overall, our experts favored corded models.) Depending on the type of vacuum, we mentioned the length of the cord or the running time.

Weight: You probably don’t want to lug a heavy-duty vacuum from room to room, so it’s important to know how much it weighs. Cordless models tend to come in at less than ten pounds, while corded versions hover around the 15- to 20-pound mark.

Extras: Here, we focused on the bells and whistles, mentioning features such as LED lights to see under-the-couch dust bunnies, detachable Swiffer-like brushes, or high-powered modes for quick cleanups below.

Additionally, we included the suction strength whenever it was available. This measurement will be listed as AW, or air watts, and Jon Gibbons, a cleaning consultant for the site Smart Vacuums, recommends choosing a model that lists at least 200AW in its specifications when shopping for a pet-specific vacuum. (Since the majority of the vacuums below don’t detail this, we didn’t think it was fair to include it as its own criteria point.)

Price: As always, affordability is one of our top priorities. Each of our picks is denoted as $, $$, or $$$ for under $200, under $400, and over $400, respectively.

Best overall vacuum for pet hair

30-foot cord | 17.5 pounds | High-reach wand, stair-specific tool, 227AW | $$$

Taking the Best in Show ribbon, Dyson earned high marks for its pet-hair performance and powerful motor. (It’s “undupable,” in the words of former Strategist senior editor Margaret Rhodes.) The Ball Animal 2 is one of Dyson’s largest and heaviest models, at nearly ten pounds more than other Dysons, but it still offers industrial-strength cleaning without the size of industrial equipment. In fact, it’s a go-to for clean-ups at the George, a pet-friendly boutique hotel owned by Bobbi Brown. Compared with a cordless, this “very powerful” vacuum lasts longer, which is more practical for hotel staffers’ deeper cleans. When former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson tested it in her home, she emphasized how easily it sucked up tufts of cat fur and “unearthed layers of dust and crumbs that had been buried in my thick living-room rug for months — if not longer.”

Part of what provides that suction is Dyson’s “tangle-free turbine tool,” an attachment designed to remove pet hair without twisting it into knots. And though this vacuum is corded, Payton Cosell Turner, the founder of the home-design firm Flat Vernacular and owner of three rescue cats, is another fan, as the vacuum spruces up area rugs with “absolute dexterity.” That cord also means there’s no limit on run time, so it’ll last until you’re finished cleaning. It is an investment, but Laura Colagrande, a co-founder of the dog-treat company Chippin, assures us that the one she has owned for years has persevered (if it doesn’t, Dyson has a five-year warranty on corded machines like this one).

Best less expensive vacuum for pet hair

30-foot cord | 14.2 pounds | Optional Febreze filter, LED lighted crevice tool | $$

Like our best overall pick, the Bissell Turbo Plus is specifically designed for pet owners and comes with a tangle-free brush roll. But at just under $250, it’s less than half the price of Ball Animal 2. The Turbo Plus comes highly recommended by Hadley Raysor, the founder of the Dandy Dogwalker. As the owner of a ten-pound Chihuahua and a 12-pound tabby cat, Raysor likes that the range of attachments — including a crevice tool and extension wand — can handle cleaning clusters of dander that are sometimes hidden. Former Strategist writer Chloe Anello used the Bissell on the second floor of her parents’ home, which is completely carpeted. Even though her family vacuumed weekly, she and her family were disgusted by how much dirt and fur came up, Anello says. She even spotted fur from previous pets inside the canister.

Best pet vacuum for carpets and hardwood floors

30-foot cord | 16.38 pounds | HEPA filter, LED lights on nozzle, detachable pod | $$

If your home has a mix of flooring, you should consider this Shark model, which comes recommended by Jon Gibbons at Smart Vacuums. He describes it as a “massive bargain” for what you’re getting, including the brand’s signature DuoClean floorhead, which offers a soft roller for hard floors and a brush bar for carpets. This feature comes with an updated version of Shark’s aptly named “Power Fins” bristles, designed to give carpets an even deeper clean and hard floors a polish, Gibbons adds. He describes the Vertex as one of the most powerful Shark models for its suction. And technically, the detachable pod, which is meant for places like stairs, makes this a two in one.

Best (less expensive) pet vacuum for carpets and hardwood floors

30-foot cord | 8.6 pounds | Handheld-convertible, LED headlights, pet crevice tool | $

For an alternative under $200, the Shark Pet Plus comes highly recommended by Sara Ochoa, a veterinary consultant for DogLab. It has two settings to switch between different surfaces: One is designed to deep clean carpets (even the thick kind), while the hard-floor mode gets just about anything else. Ochoa likes how easy it is to toggle between the two while continuing to vacuum, so you’re not missing a spot in the process. This model has picked up after her succession of dogs, cats, and even a bunny, whose hair seemed to float around the house. Her cat now has a chair he likes to sleep in (and shed on), but the handheld function grabs the fur so well, it “looks like he has never been there.” Plus, it’s easy to clean, with a dust cup that empties out smoothly without pet hair getting stuck inside.

Best cordless vacuum for pet hair

60-minute run time | 5.71 pounds | Handheld-convertible, hair screw tool, 150AW | $$$

Your best bet for a pet-specific cordless vacuum is the Dyson V11, which was raved about just as much as the Ball Animal 2 (remember the tie we talked about before). To help pick up the clumps of hair that her hypoallergenic goldendoodle sheds, Rebecca Fadden, founder of the dog-accessories brand Finn + Me, alternates between the head attachments so she can switch between carpet and couches without a problem. Rita Li, the founder of the pet-accessories brand Rororiri, uses her V11 inside her business, which sees a succession of different breeds every day and needs to be constantly cleaned. The vacuum is efficient and lightweight enough to maneuver around displays and underneath furniture. Zay Satchu, a co-founder and the chief veterinary officer at the start-up veterinary clinic Bond Vet, also considers it a must-have as pets come in “bringing New York City in with them.” And because the vacuum has its own charging station, it works for the frequent cleanings the staff at Bond Vet does (rather than scheduling hours-long sessions).

Since the V11 is currently out of stock, we have two alternatives. The first is the Dyson Absolute V10, which beauty influencer Michaela Podolsky trusts to tidy up after her two shed-happy Rottweilers. With a soft brush head, the V10 keeps her floors in tip-top shape, she says. The second is the Cyclone version of the V10, which Sehaj Grewal of the Melrose Vet praises for its superior suction strength, which gives Grewal “peace of mind, knowing all pet hair is being removed.”

Best pet vacuum for heavy shedders

30-foot cord | 7.5 pounds | Handheld-convertible, precision-duster tool | $

If you have a heavy shedder, we heard about two Shark models in particular. The first was the Shark Apex, which is a favorite of pet-grooming salon Canine Styles on the Upper East Side, which co-owner Mark Drendel says has depended on the brand for over 30 years. But the Shark Rocket stood out because it’s a corded stick vacuum that can handle lots of fur. “It’s the perfect industrial vacuum despite being so lightweight,” according to Tiziana Agnello, the founder of the pet-accessories label LoveThyBeast. She’s so devoted to this vacuum that she bought five of them — split between her company’s store locations and home — and she prefers it over the Dyson cordless vacuums she has used. The Rocket also transforms into a shorter, portable vacuum.

Best robot vacuum for pet hair

100-minute run time | 8 pounds | D-shape design, laser mapping, app-controlled | $$

We named the Neato our best overall robot vacuum for pet owners, so it’s only fitting to include it here as well. The D8 is the updated version of the now discontinued D7, which was name-checked by our experts, and this new model has almost identical features. One of those functions lets you create zoning and non-zoning areas. “You can block off and control sections of a room from your phone,” explains Shelby Semel, a canine-behavior expert and trainer. This specificity is what Ryeon Kim, co-founder of pet e-commerce retailer Little Beast, likes, as you can use the app to spot clean (without having to do it yourself). The D-shaped design gets into the corners and crannies you might otherwise miss. Jamie Richardson, veterinarian and chief of staff at veterinary start-up Small Door, used hers to get all the sand up throughout her beachside Bermuda place.

Best (less-expensive) robot vacuum for pet hair

100-minute run time | 5.73 pounds | Quiet clean function, BoostIQ for carpets, remote control | $

This more affordable model from Eufy took our second-best ribbon in the aforementioned guide. Its slimness is the reason Minha Khan, an art director and owner of a longhaired cat, relies on it so much. “I love that this vacuum reaches areas that my stick vacuum can’t,” she says. The RoboVac also has the Strategist seal of approval: Senior writer Liza Corsillo describes it as the “robot vacuum that helped me avoid couples therapy.” Although it’s meant to be ignored, Corsillo couldn’t ignore how much it helped clean much-argued areas, including “devouring dust bunnies” underneath their bed.

Best handheld vacuum for pet hair

17-minute run time | 3 pounds | Lithium-ion battery, upholstery tool | $

This vacuum is like a miniature version of our second-place winner. Raysor uses it whenever their Bissell Turbo misses a spot — with their two-pet household, they are constantly shifting between vacuuming and sweeping. The handheld model is strong enough to get deep-rooted dog hairs between couch cushions and the “renegade litter bits” that sometimes get stuck into corners. As a relatively new cat owner, Strategist writer Lauren Ro likewise depends on an older model of this Bissell to get what her canister vacuum can’t. When she tested out this Bissell, she was happy to find that it picks up everything from “tumbleweeds of cat hair” and dust bunnies to strands of her own long hair.

Some more vacuums for pet hair we’ve written about

Our experts

• Tiziana Agnello, founder of pet accessories label LoveThyBeast
• Chloe Anello, former Strategist writer
Bobbi Brown, owner of pet-friendly boutique hotel the George
• Chelsea Brownridge, founder of DogSpot
• Laura Colagrande, co-founder of dog-treat company Chippin
• Payton Cosell Turner, founder of home-design firm Flat Vernacular
• Mark Drendel, co-owner of pet grooming salon Canine Styles
• Jon Gibbons, cleaning consultant for the site Smart Vacuums
• Sehaj Grewal, owner of the Melrose Vet
• Rebecca Fadden, founder of dog-accessories brand Finn + Me
• Minha Khan, an art director and owner of a longhaired cat
• Ryeon Kim, co-founder of pet e-commerce retailer Little Beast
• Rita Li, founder of pet-accessories brand Rororiri
• Sara Ochoa, a veterinary consultant for DogLab
• Michaela Podolsky, beauty influencer
• Hadley Raysor, founder of the Dandy Dogwalker
• Jamie Richardson, veterinarian and chief of staff at veterinary start-up Small Door
• Lauren Ro, Strategist writer
• Zay Satchu, co-founder and chief veterinary officer at Bond Vet
Shelby Semel, a canine-behavior expert and trainer

Additional reporting by Noël Duan and Chloe Anello

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The 9 Very Best Vacuums for Pet Hair