How is a pet vacuum cleaner different to a regular vacuum cleaner?
Vacuums for pet hair have become popular because they genuinely do a better job of picking up dog or cat fur – particularly out of the carpet, where it can get trodden in by everyday foot traffic.
So how do they differ from regular models? Well, vacuum cleaners that are specifically designed for pet hair removal often feature very powerful suction and increased airflow, as well as High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that help target and trap allergens present in pet dander. They may also feature a specialised motorised rotating brush head, which helps work fur and debris out of the carpet and upholstery, and come with attachments that are designed to pick up hard-to-grab pet hair.
How do you choose the right vacuum cleaner?
Different pet vacuum cleaners come with different features, so it makes sense to choose one that's specific to your personal situation.
If, for example, you have a pet with particularly long hair (or one who's very prone to shedding), a vacuum with tangle-free technology (which stops the brush bar from getting clogged up by animal hair) is a great option.
If you're sensitive to dust mites and pet hair, look for a model that's designed with allergy sufferers in mind. HEPA filters are designed to trap 99.7% or particles in the air, including pet dander, as well as dust mites and pollen.
The flooring in your home may also play a role in deciding which vacuum is best for you. If you have timber floorboards or tiles, a model with great suction power is going to make sure that the fur isn't just blown around the place! Meanwhile, for carpet and rugs, you'll need something to help pull out the fur – which is where the rotating brush head comes in very handy.
Dog owners in particular may want to consider a model that's been designed to make light work of dirt tracked in via muddy paws.
Ready to see some of the best vacuum cleaners for pets? Let's go...
Generally speaking, robot vacuums are not the most efficient for picking up pet hair. But if your heart is set on a set-and-forget model, the Roomba i7+ could be the best on the market. In one reviewer's test, it picked up an average of 90.5 percent of dog hair; and the feature that sees it return to the dock to unload whenever it's full means the vacuum doesn't need to be emptied several times as it cleans the house.
* The auto-emptying feature means you can set and forget for up to 30 cleans.
* Effectively removes pet hair from carpet.
* Relatively quiet when vacuuming.
* Very expensive.
* The Clean Base can be noisy when emptying the vacuum.
* Needs a wifi connection for all features to function at their best.
User review: "If you have several very hairy pets, the Clean Base might be a game-changer. We’ve heard from readers who have tried to use robot vacuums but find that the bins get so stuffed with dog hair on every single run that the robot never comes close to cleaning their entire house before it loses suction or just quits the session. That’s not a problem with the i7+, though, because it empties itself anytime it senses that the bin is full."
This one's hard to beat in price, and for a product that's less than $100, the reviews are surprisingly good. With an air-driven rotating turbo head that lift dust, debris and (most importantly) pet hair from the carpet effectively, and a HEPA filtration for a healthier clean, this bagless vac is a good basic pet-specific model for those not looking to invest potentially up to 10 times the price with some of the other brands.
* Very budget friendly compared to most other pet models.
* Powerful 1800W motor.
* Easy to use and manoeuvre.
* Short 4-metre long cord.
* Noisy at higher power.
* The hose doesn't have a clip-on attachment to the body for storage.
User review: "All in all, this vacuum was a breeze to use and left the whole house clean – and most importantly pet-hair free! And for $99, you just can’t beat it."
Electrolux has a good reputation for quality vacuum cleaners, and this cordless, bagless option is a top pick for pet owners. The detachable handheld unit is especially handy for furniture and hard-to-reach places, and an internal blade cuts up any entwined hairs from the roller so it won't get clogged when you're cleaning up after Fluffy. The Ergorapido also features a motorised brush nozzle to lift pet hair with ease, as well as a filter endorsed by the British Allergy Foundation.
* Lightweight and easy to store.
* Combination handheld and stick cleaner in one.
* Easy-to-use 180-degree swivel head.
* Battery power only lasts around 35 minutes.
* Smaller canister requires more frequent emptying.
User review: "The smaller turbo head is excellent for cleaning up after my dog on the couch."
Miele is another well-known and trusted name in vacuum cleaners, and they have several pet-specific products on offer. This particular model gets extra points for its anti-odour filter to neutralise pet smells, as well as its special bag fleece, which retains more dust and particles than regular vacuum bags, making it especially good for allergy sufferers.
* Features an extra-long cord.
* Comes with good accessories (including both a turbo brush and a mini version).
* Large 4.5-litre capacity bag.
* You do have to change the bag when it's full.
* Additional tools can be expensive.
* Some report it's not the most effective with larger dirt/debris.
User review: "So easy to use and so light to move around. Has cut my vacuuming time in half. Definitely worth the money especially if you need to get hair out of mats."
While this Shark vacuum isn't marketed as a pet-specific option, independent testers at Choice named it their 'mid-range marvel' and gave it a glowing recommendation in the dog and cat-fur blitzing department.
"This mid-priced Shark upright vacuum is a whizz at removing pet hair, scoring a perfect 100% in our pet hair removal test. It comes with a good range of tools with on-board storage for all of them, and a washable HEPA filter."
* Features a detachable pod for more portable cleaning/hard-to-reach areas.
* Traps 99.99% of allergens.
* Includes pet-specific 'Pet Multi-Tool'.
* Some users have difficulty attaching and detaching accessories.
* At 6.2kg, some find this model heavy and cumbersome.
* Not ideal for pets with very long hair.
User review: Very quiet motor, excellent suction on both carpets and hard floor. Really handy with the lift away cylinder, great for stairs and awkward hard to reach bits.
Another vac designed with pet owners in mine, this Hoover features their Deep-Cleaning Turbobrush tool, which lifts carpet fibres to clean more thoroughly, suctioning up any stray pet hairs and directing them through a washable HEPA filter. It also features an energy-efficient motor and – bonus – is much cheaper than a lot of the other pet-specific vacuum cleaners out there.
* Large 1.75-litre bagless capacity.
* One-touch button emptying system.
* Cheap compared to many of the other pet vacuums on the market.
* Power cord could be longer.
* Some users found the attachments difficult to change.
User review: "Great vacuum at a reasonable price. It out-performs more expensive vacuums I have used. The turbo brush is great at picking up pet hair and lifting the carpet pile."
The Ball Animal has the strongest suction, largest bin capacity and longest cable length of all the Dyson upright vacuums, and comes with a tangle-free turbine tool and counter-rotating heads with brushes to remove hair and dirt. Its compact design means it stores away easily, and makes short work of pet hair thanks to strong suction.
* The ball feature makes it easy to move around corners.
* Brush heads pick up pet hair without getting tangled.
* Tangle-free turbine tool great to get hair and debris off upholstery.
* Doesn't handle stairs as well as some other models.
* Limited wand manoeuvrability.
* The bulk of the ball can make it difficult to clean under low furniture.
User review: "My wife has three dogs and we keep the carpet vacuumed every week. After using the Dyson, I was amazed at how much hair and dirt came out of the carpet the first time I vacuumed."
This bag-free offering from Miele is a top choice for allergy sufferers, as it features an Allergy UK-approved self-cleaning HEPA AirClean filter. And while some consider bagged vacuums a better option for those with allergies, the easy-empty feature on this one lets you ditch the dust and debris with little risk of inhaling nasties.
Of course, it also deals with pet hair like a dream, with strong suction making light work of fur embedded in carpet pile.
* Handles all surfaces well.
* Strong suction.
* Very quiet.
* Relatively heavy at 8.71kg, making it less ideal for stairs.
* Cable could be longer.
User review: "The amount of hair and dirt it pulled from our rugs was unbelievable. We have three cats and they are shedding lots due to it being summer, so you can imagine what we are dealing with – and being an asthmatic, I needed something that will clean the air too. Would recommend this to anyone who needs their carpets thoroughly cleaned."
Cordless, bagless and weighing in at a slight 3.2kg, this offering from Vax is lightweight and easy to store, but still provides incredible suction for stray pet hair, along with lasting battery power (so no cords for Rex to get tangled in while he chases the vacuum while you try to clean!).
* Sleek design and super lightweight.
* Features an LED light to show dust under furniture.
* Boost mode provides extra power for picking up stubborn dirt or pet hair.
* Battery only lasts around 15 minutes if used on maximum suction power.
* Smaller bin (.6L) requires regular emptying.
* Noise levels at max power are also significant.
User review: "The rotating head does a nice job of fluffing up the carpet making it look like new whilst cleaning up all the mess our toddler makes. Can do the whole house on one charge (standard setting with head turned on, not boost mode)."
Time and time again, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal+ shows up on lists of the best pet vacuum cleaners, and it really is a great all-rounder. In fact, many praise this as the best pet vac money can buy.
The bagless cylinder vacuum comes with all the tools you need to suit different cleaning jobs, for example – a rotating head to lift hair from carpet and a turbine head for dust on hard floors – features a "max mode" for the extra dirty moments, as well as carbon-fibre filaments to catch fine dust and microscopic particles.
*Easy to use and simple to empty.
*Powerful removal of dirt and pet hair.
*Automatically uprights itself if it tips over.
* May struggle with deep-pile carpeting.
* Bulky design.
User review: "From the first use I was extremely surprised by the sheer power and suction of this machine and the amount of stuff that was collected after 5 minutes of use was incredible."