You’d be hard-pressed to find any “Best Pet Vacuums” list that doesn’t include a Shark or Dyson vacuum (or both)!
There are plenty of other companies that share the pet hair vacuum market, yet these two names inevitably pop up at any mention of pet vacuums. The two companies often seem at odds, both wrestling for control over the same market space.
Dyson is generally known as a standard among high-end vacuums. The company justifies their high prices by asserting they offer superior cleaning performance. Dyson famously makes the claim that their products have twice the suction of other vacuums.
Shark is a smaller company, and often attempts to edge into Dyson’s customer base by arguing that their vacuums offer similar (if not better) performance—but at almost half the cost.
Shark commercials often take direct aim at Dyson vacuums, as seen in this infomercial comparing the suction power of the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away and the Dyson Big Ball Animal.
But beyond the marketing, what’s the real difference between the two?
We wanted to compare the two most popular brands in pet vacuums head to head, to see how both brands measure up as a whole. By weighing the strengths and weaknesses of similar models from the two companies, we hope to extract the truth about real-world performance.
We also considered other important qualities in a good pet vacuum, including operation, effectiveness at picking up pet hair, and filtration.
Best Upright Vacuums
Dyson Ball Multi Floor vs. Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away
The Pro Lift-Away handily beats out the Multi Floor in terms of price. Dyson’s vacuum costs quite a lot more. If you’re shopping on a budget, you’re likely to be drawn to the Shark.
Both options are very maneuverable on floors. The Pro Lift-Away has a swiveling head that offers comparable handling to the Dyson ball technology, and both can easily navigate around furniture and other obstacles for faster cleaning. Both offer an improvement in handling compared to standard vacuum designs. The biggest difference is that you’ll have to switch tools on the Shark while the Dyson self-adjusts.
The Pro Lift-Away weighs slightly less than the Multi Floor, though both vacuums could be considered relatively light. The Lift-Away weighs roughly 14 pounds, while the Multi Floor weighs about 17 pounds. The light build does compromise durability, but it’s extremely convenient
The design of Dyson’s ball vacuums have a notable flaw—the height of ball prevents the head of the vacuum from getting under furniture with low clearance. This isn’t a huge problem (the Multi Floor has a removable wand) but does add extra work to your vacuuming regimen. Both of the floor attachments that come with the Shark are easier to fit under low furniture.
Shark’s lift-away design offers a lot more versatility that the Multi Floor—particularly if your home has stairs. For many users, the Pro Lift-Away’s ability to quickly change between a canister and upright was a highly useful feature that sold them on this vacuum. The Multi Floor is something of a pain to use on stairs.
In our opinion, both vacuums deliver very respectable performance. Consumer Reports rated both models as “Very Good” on both bare floors and carpets. We’re inclined to agree, though the Multi Floor definitely has the edge for sheer suction power!
Notably, the Multi Floor scored higher in Consumer Reports’ pet hair test, maintaining a “Very Good” rating versus the Pro Lift-Away’s “Fair.” We’d agree with that, too. The Shark isn’t nearly as easy to untangle. Its hose design is also more prone to clogging.
Both vacuums feature solid filtration systems, and are a good fit for pet owners with allergies. The Dyson Multi Floor is Certified Asthma and Allergy, offering whole-machine HEPA filtration. Shark’s Professional Rotator also features complete seal HEPA filtration. Since both are bagless, we don’t think there’s a substantial difference between the two. The only thing we’ve found of note is that the Dyson does a better job keeping debris away from the filter.
Which is better for pet hair? Shark or Dyson
Is the Dyson’s better suction and performance in pet hair enough to justify the extra cost? That’s a decision that will depend on your budget and personal preferences. It’s better by any measure, but it’s also quite pricey. The Professional Lift-Away does a decent job on pet hair but it clogs more easily than the Dyson and is unlikely to last as long.
There’s also a question of format here. The lift-away design of the Shark will certainly appeal to many homeowners with stairs. For homes with stairs, or for homeowners looking for a vacuum that works well in their car, Shark’s lift-away feature is a useful and inexpensive option.