In this Guide
Pet hair is hardest to vacuum when it doesn’t stay in one place!
If you’re a pet owner, you know how fur finds its way into carpets, corners, upholstery, stairs, and all sorts of nooks and crannies around your house. Upright vacuums are great for your floors, but are fairly limited when it comes to all the other places pet hair hides. Canister vacuums give you the maneuverability to chase down pet hair wherever it lurks!
However, many canister vacuums won’t cut it on pet hair. Lots of models have weak suction that won’t pull fur balls out from far corners, or pull heavy pet dirt out of carpet fibers.
Some of them have poor hose designs which clog easily, or have weak carpet heads which get tangled and stuck with hair. With so many brands and models to choose from, it’s hard to know which canister vacuums are actually worth your money!
We went looking specifically for the best canister vacuums for pet hair. We’ve compared dozens of models on the market.
We analyzed specs, features, and professional reviews in Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and other publications. We also took the time to read and dissect hundreds of reviews from real buyers who have actually spend time with these vacuums at home.
After compiling our findings, we chose the three best canister vacuums on the market today for dealing with pet hair.
On this page, you’ll find our in-depth reviews of each of our recommendations. We’ll talk you through everything you need to know about these vacuums, and help you figure out which one is best for you!
First, let’s take a quick look at the winners:
Best on a Budget
Top Canister Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
1. Miele C1 Pure Suction
The C1 is Miele’s most budget-friendly offering in the canister market. It’s from their new Pure Suction lineup, which offers an accessible way into the German company’s vacuum. This is the successor to the older Olympus model, which was one of our favorites.
At less than half the price of the larger Miele models, it still offers most of the same features, like adjustable suction, air filtration, and rugged German build quality. The C1 is our favorite canister vacuum for pet owners with mostly hard floors.
It’s fully adjustable. There are 6 different suction settings, to help you adjust the vacuum to each surface you’re cleaning. You can turn suction down to clean hairs off delicate curtains, or turn it all the way up to nab those pesky dust bunnies hiding under furniture.
Previous buyers were surprised by how powerful the Miele was, especially at the higher settings. It’ll not only grab all the hair from the surface of your floors, but it’ll suck pet hair and dander out of the cracks between your floorboards!
It also filters your air as it cleans. This is perfect for people with allergies, as well as the rest of us who just want to make sure we trap as many allergens as possible, making our homes healthier for people with sensitivities. Miele’s bags are self-sealing, so you won’t release any allergens when you’re changing the bags.
The combination floor tool works on all your hard flooring, as well as low pile and flat woven carpets and area rugs. It has brushes for loosening dirt from your hardwoods, while protecting the finish. To switch between settings, you just press a handy footswitch.
Between the power cord and the extension hose, the Miele has a nearly 30-foot cleaning radius! That makes it easy to vacuum pet hair off your staircases, as well as clean from room to room without constantly unplugging the vacuum.
It’s ergonomically designed. The canister is balanced, with 3 wheels for better steering. The metal wand is telescopic, so you can adjust it to your height.
There are also a few other convenient features, like automatic cord rewind, and a footswitch for turning the vacuum on and off. The attachments all store onboard with a handy clip.
It’s much better-built than other canister vacuums at this price point. Compared to competitors’ models, the Miele is sturdier, and more reassuring. It has a stainless steel wand, heavy plastic construction, and rubber wheels which won’t mark your floors.
Plus, Miele makes even their cheapest model in Germany! That means a much higher standard of quality control than other brands (which can be even more expensive).
It’s covered by a 7-year warranty on the motor and casing, with 1 year of coverage for the other components.
The build quality also means that the Miele is quieter than the competition. Many reviewers complimented the quiet strength of the C1, and said the reduced noise made it much more pleasant to use than other vacuums they’d owned previously. A buyer mentioned that it’s very lightweight and easy to carry and maneuver. It picks up dust perfectly and the biggest bonus from the product is that it’s very quiet.
It can’t handle medium to deep carpeting. Without a brush head, it’s pretty helpless on thicker rugs and carpets. It’s really only meant for hard floors and flatter rugs.
While the C1 filters air, it doesn’t have HEPA filtration. The more expensive Miele vacuums offer HEPA-grade filtration, starting at around $500.
Miele bags are fairly small, and are expensive to replace. That does add a slight maintenance cost to the C1.
There’s one caveat to the German build quality on this model. Most Miele’s are made entirely in Germany from start to finish. The new, cheaper C1 series is assembled in China from German-made components. That’s why the prices can be so much lower than the all-German Miele’s. However, having used a few of these hybrid budget models, we can confidently say the build quality is just as good.
2. Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
The Cinetic Big Ball is Dyson’s best canister vacuum for pet owners.
It’s equipped with powerful cyclonic suction, and HEPA filtration for reducing airborne allergens in your home.
We like the attachment set, which includes a few tools specially for dealing with pet hair. The Animal is a good choice for people with a mix of flooring, who want the convenience of a bagless vacuum without the mess you’d usually associate with one.
This canister works on a ball design, and rides on a central steering joint. That means it has practically no turning radius. It follows you more quickly and easily than other canisters. It also has a low center of gravity, which means it won’t tip over. One previous buyer said that it’s easy to take around in corners and over rugs without it getting tipped over.
Like the larger Dyson vacuums, it uses cyclonic suction. The Big Ball has several tiered layers of cyclones, for a veritable whirlwind inside the canister. This creates lots of power, and directs finer dust and debris away from filters. We like cyclonic suction because it maintains its strength even when the canister starts getting full.
There’s also HEPA-grade filtration built into the canister. The Big Ball is certified to trap 99% of airborne allergens inside the ball.
The Triggerhead floor tool works on carpets and hard flooring. You can control it from the handle. There are two settings for adjusting brush height and speed. Both settings use suction power to drive the brushes. This eliminates the need for a traditional belt, which can be extremely annoying to untangle and get unstuck. Previous buyers said the air-driven design makes this vacuum significantly easier to push.
This model also comes with a few smart attachments. There’s an additional, smaller scrubbing brush, which is great for getting pet hair off upholstery, pillows, and pet enclosures. There’s also a combination tool which doubles as a crevice tool and dusting brush. Finally, there’s a stair tool which has a narrow suction head to fit on each step.
It’s bagless. That means there are no maintenance costs! The ball design also allows for more dirt, dust and pet hair in the chamber than most bagged models. The dust bin empties hygienically over the trash, with an easy button.
It’s covered by a 5-year warranty.
The Triggerhead tool is air-powered. That means it doesn’t do very well on thicker rugs or carpets. Previous buyers said that while it certainly has the suction power to handle deep carpets, it just ends up getting bogged down. It doesn’t really dig in or pull itself along as much as it needs to.
Since you can’t shut off the brushes completely, the Big Ball isn’t the best choice for people with delicate hardwoods.
It’s all plastic. For such an expensive vacuum, it’s fairly cheaply made.
Some previous buyers pointed out that emptying the bagless chamber defeats the purpose of the HEPA filtration. Dyson recommends emptying the dust chamber into a separate trash bag, so you can keep dust from escaping over the can.
3. Miele Compact C2 Electro+
The Electro+ is the most powerful of Miele’s C2 series. The C2 lineup is the most affordable all-German models, and they have compact canisters which are super convenient and maneuverable. It’s a much more affordable alternative to the C3 Cat and Dog, which costs about twice the price.
The Electro+ comes with a motorized carpet brush, dedicated hard floor attachment, and the same adjustable suction settings as the C1 Pure Suction.
It has the same 6 adjustable suction settings as the C1. It also includes the same air filtration system. Many previous buyers said they were impressed by how much pet hair the Miele manages to pack into each bag.
The carpet head is fully motorized. Because it combines suction power with a motorized roller brush, it’s far more effective than the Dyson on carpets and rugs. The Titan can even handle thicker shag carpets and deep pile.
You can control the motor right from the handle. The carpet head is also more streamlined than other power heads. It’s low profile and slim design make it easier to vacuum without having to move furniture.
The dedicated parquet floor brush has thick, soft bristles for loosening dirt from hard floorings while protecting the finish. It also works on upholstery, curtains, and high places.
Both floor attachments have swivel necks. Previous buyers said they were much easier to maneuver under and around furniture than models they had used in the past.
Like the C1, the wand is telescopic stainless steel. Previous buyers said it’s easy to adjust for cleaning above floor level, and is very ergonomic to use. The handle is also curved to put less strain on your arm and shoulder.
There’s also an attachment set with a crevice tool, circular dusting brush, and a special pet hair tool with velour strips for unsticking tricky fur clumps. All three can be stored onboard with a little clip.
As with the C1, the C2 Electro+’s attachments are built much more sturdily than the ones sold with the Dyson and other competitors. Previous buyers said they’re great for working on tough pet hair, even for long hair cats.
The canister is solidly built with hard plastic casing, rubber caster wheels, and a built-in footswitch. While it’s a bit heavier than the Dyson, the C2’s canister is more compact, and is less awkward to carry. The air vents are on the top of the vacuum, which stops hair from blowing around on hard floors.
As with the C1, C2 Electro+ owners said they were overwhelmingly impressed with the quality and design of their new vacuum. One mentioned that the design is well-thought-out because of its durable parts.
Just like the C1, the C2’s extremely quiet. The motorized carpet head does add a bit of noise, but nothing that’ll disturb your pets!
As with the C1, the bags are somewhat expensive to replace.
The wand and hose are a bit awkward to store. They do clip onto the canister, to keep them standing up straight, but the whole thing still takes a fair amount of space.
It’s fairly expensive.
Which is the Best Canister Vacuum for You?
The Miele C1 Pure Suction is the best choice for people with mainly hard floors, and the occasional rug.
It’s the least expensive of the 3 options, and its floor attachment protects hardwoods and tile better than the Dyson. However, the C1 really isn’t designed to handle wall-to-wall carpets or thicker rugs.
The Dyson is our recommendation for people who have a mixture of flooring, but no deep carpets.
It’s more affordable than the Miele C2 Electro+, and offers comparable versatility. We especially like all the special pet hair attachments on the DC39, which you don’t get on the more expensive Miele.
Just like the Miele C1, though, the Big Ball canister can’t handle deep carpets. The bagless design also makes it less ideal for allergy sufferers. More than the other flaws, though, the big downside of the Dyson is its cheap build quality relative to the price tag.
The Miele C2 Electro+ is our top quality recommendation.
It’s built better than the Dyson, and has a much better reliability record. The Electro+ is also the only one of the three that can tackle thick, wall-to-wall carpeting and throw rugs. If you can afford the initial investment, we think you’ll be very happy with the Miele!
How to Shop for the Best Canister Vacuum for Pet Hair
Think about your flooring:
If you have thicker carpets, or wall-to-wall carpets in your home, you’ll want a floor attachment with a powered brush head.
Combination attachments with air-powered brushes are more suitable for pet owners with a mixture of hard flooring and low carpets.
If you have delicate hardwoods, you’ll want a dedicated hard flooring head with soft bristles to protect the finish. We also like canister vacuums with rubber wheels for protecting hardwood flooring, since plastic wheels can mark and scratch many flooring finishes. Read more on wood flooring care right here.
Look for tough wands and hoses, since they’ll be taking most of the stress as you vacuum. After all, you’re pulling the canister by the hose.
Since you’ll be switching the floor heads and extension wands around pretty frequently, you want to make sure all the clasps and latches are well-built and will hold up over time. You’ll also want tougher attachments that can handle years of use.
Look for ergonomic canisters:
One of the most annoying things that can happen is a canister flipping over, or turning on its side. That’s a sure sign of poor design, and can cause damage to your vacuum and your floor. It can also make a mess if the dust compartment comes open.
You want to look for canisters with low centers of gravity, and low turn radiuses to help them follow you closely, even around tight corners. We like ball-joint steering, or 3-wheeled systems for better agility.
Make versatility your top priority:
You want as much range as possible from the hose and power cord of your new canister vacuum, and as many attachments in the box as you can find.
We recommend vacuums that can handle at least some rugs and low carpets, even if they’re mainly designed for hard flooring. You’ll also want to make sure that one of the floor heads will work on your stairs, or in any other tricky spots in your house.
As for attachments, you want to look for the basic 3 pieces in any vacuum: a crevice tool, dusting brush, and an upholstery brush. Some models have extra upholstery attachments specially for pet hair, while some models have velour strips for collecting pet hair built into the standard brush.
The whole point of a canister vacuum is maneuverability and versatility, so we recommend making a list of all the tough places to vacuum in your home before you shop, to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes.
Looking for something a bit different in your new canister vacuum? Check out Amazon’s top-selling canister models or visit our page for the best pet hair vacuums!