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Best robot vacuums for pet hair in 2021

Cat with robot vacuum
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best robot vacuums for pet hair will be able to pick up any loose fur without jamming itself or further embedding it into the carpet. While some robot vacuum cleaners will be great for cleaning up everyday dust and debris, they may struggle with pet hair in particular. This is because pet hair can cling to the carpet and can tangle around the brush bar too. Our pets shed a lot of fur as well, particularly in the springtime. So if you’ve got a cat or dog, it’s essential that you take performance on pet hair into account when buying a new robot vacuum. 

Sadly, this isn’t the easiest of specifications to find! That’s why we’ve put lots of robot vacuums to the test on pet hair — we want to see which can actually deliver on their claims. Prices range from $120 to over £900, so however much you want to spend and whichever features you’re after, there’s one here for every home. Here are the best robot vacuums for pet hair. 

Editor's Note: The Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for smart home devices have been announced, and the Roborock S4 Max has won the Best robot vacuum overall award! Head to the smart home devices awards page to see all the winners and recommended runners-up.

What are the best robot vacuums for pet hair?

Based on our lab results and general performance, the best robot vacuum for pet hair overall is the iLife V3s Pro. It’s basic in its design and functionality, but it collected 99.5% of pet hair on test, which is a near-perfect result. At $120, it’s very reasonably priced as well for such a strong performance. While it doesn’t offer an abundance of features, you can schedule your cleaning sessions using the remote control, so you can keep up with any shedding.

If you want something with more features, then we recommend the iRobot Roomba s9+. With app connectivity, area-specific cleaning and no-go zones, this robot vacuum is brimming with the latest in robot vac technology. It’s effective at picking up pet hair too, collecting 98% in our tests. It stands out for its Clean Base, from which it can charge and self-empty into a bag. The bag only needs replacing every other month, which saves you lots of time compared to conventional robot vacuums. It’s not a cheap option though, at $939.

Looking for the latest tech, but don’t want to break the bank? In that case, the Roborock S4 Max is worth considering. It offers a great balance of performance with useful features, and it’s a reasonable price at $429. During our lab tests, it picked up 94% of pet hair on average and was especially good on hardwood floors, where it collected 100% of pet hair. Special features include laser navigation, room-specific cleaning and avoidance zones to keep the robot away from any slumbering pets!

Here are the best robot vacuums for pet hair.

The best robot vacuums for pet hair you can buy today

Best robot vacuums for pet hair: iLife V3s Protom's guide top pick

iLife V3s Pro (Image credit: iLife)

1. iLife V3s Pro

Best for budget-friendly cleaning

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 97
Pet Hair Score: 99.5
Bin Size: 600 ml
Smart Home Compatibility: None
Size: 11.8 x 11.8 x 3 inches
Weight: 4.5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent pet-hair-cleaning performance+Fantastic hardwood performance+Inexpensive
Reasons to avoid
-Loud-Inconsistent cleaning pattern

Who would’ve thought that one of the best cheap robot vacuums available is also one of the best for tackling pet hair? The inexpensive iLife V3s Pro is light on bells and whistles, but big on keeping your floors free from fur. This bump-and-clean robot sets itself apart with a 3-inch suction opening instead of a brush roll for ingesting debris. Not only does that aid in picking up dog hair, but it also makes maintenance easier since you won’t need to spend time removing hair from a brush roll.

The iLife V3s Pro really shines on bare surfaces, such as hardwood floors and tile, though it works well on thinner rugs, too. The random cleaning pattern of the V3s Pro means it might miss a few spots or, as we found in our review, get fixated on a certain area. Thankfully, there are arrow buttons on the included remote control to guide the V3s Pro back towards the dirt. If you’re okay with providing the iLife V3s Pro a little supervision, this incredible value will serve your floors well.

Read our full iLife V3s Pro review.

Best robot vacuums for pet hair: iRobot Roomba s9+

iRobot Roomba s9+ (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. iRobot Roomba s9+

Best for avoiding contact with hair and dander

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 96.3
Pet Hair Score: 98
Bin Size: 0.4 quarts
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant
Size: 12.3 x 12.3 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 8.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, premium design+Mapping was quick and easy+Easy-to-use mapping controls in app
Reasons to avoid
-Loud vacuum, loud dustbin-Very expensive-Have to buy replacement disposal bags

If you’re going to drop a lot of bills for a robot vacuum, you want to make sure it’ll pick them all up. Luckily, the iRobot Roomba s9+’s performance matches its hefty price tag – especially when dealing with pet hair. The Roomba s9+ stands out from the pack for its self-emptying Clean Base, which automatically empties the onboard dustbin when it’s full or when it completes a job. This automatic emptying does more than save you some work — it keeps the hair and dander the machine just picked up from re-entering your home when it’s time to empty the bin. A disposal bag inside of the base neatly closes up when it’s time to remove the full bag. It’s a lot better than dumping the robot’s dustbin into your kitchen garbage can.

But stopping pet hair and dust from recirculating in your home isn’t the Roomba s9+’s only trick. This Wi-Fi-connected robot vacuum can be commanded by its accompanying app, iRobot Home, to clean specific areas of your home, such as the area around the kitchen table, and avoid others. Don’t need that much granularity? Tell the s9+ to clean the whole kitchen at 8:30 every night. Want to come home to a clean home? The s9+ can be triggered via geofencing: Leave home to walk the dog, the vacuum starts cleaning. Come home and choose to have the vac continue the job or head back to the base, making it an excellent feature for households with pups who fear vacuums.

Read our full iRobot Roomba S9+ review.

Best robot vacuums for pet hair: Roborock S4 Max

Roborock S4 Max (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Roborock S4 Max

Best for overall cleaning performance

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 96.3
Pet Hair Score: 94
Bin Size: 460 ml
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Assistant
Size: 13.5 inches x 3.8 inches
Weight: 4.9 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Fast mapping+Excellent cleaner+Quiet vacuum
Reasons to avoid
-Room dividing could be better

It should come as no surprise that our top pick for the  best robot vacuums is also one of the best at cleaning up after pets. The Wi-Fi-connect Roborock S4 Max has a lot to offer in addition to its pet hair pick up ability. In our review, we found that it quickly created accurate maps on our home’s layout, with the ability to store up to four maps. It’s able to vacuum just one room, multiple rooms, or a whole level on a whim or on a schedule. Plus, the S4 Max can be customized within the Roborock app to make up to three cleaning passes in one run. It also supports no-go zones, so you can keep it from bumping into Fido’s food bowls.

The Roborock S4 Max will increase suction when it detects carpeting, to better remove all the hair from Garfield’s favorite afternoon sun spot on the living room rug. Speaking of cats, the S4 Max performed well in our kitty litter lab tests, too. The vacuum picked up a combined average of 96.38% of litter on carpet and hardwood. Plus, should you find yourself trapped in a chair due to a cat on your lap, you can command the S4 Max to clean via Alexa or Google Assistant.

Read our full Roborock S4 Max review.

Best robot vacuums for pet hair: Neato D4

Neato D4 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Neato D4

Best for homes with pets and carpets

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 91.3
Pet Hair Score: 91.3
Bin Size: 700 ml
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Home
Size: 13.2 x 12.6 x 3.9 inches
Weight: 7.4 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Quick mapping+Supports “no-go” zones+Solid cleaning performance
Reasons to avoid
-Mapping doesn’t support individual room cleaning

The D-shaped Neato D4 is good at ferreting out dust bunnies hiding out in corners. The D4 picked up 95% of the pet hair in our carpeted test area. There’s a single roller brush positioned at the very front of the vac, much like an upright vacuum, which helps the D4 collect stray MeowMix under counters and along walls.

Though the mapping on the Neato D4 isn’t as feature-rich as the mapping on bots like the newer Roborock S4 Max, the D4 still holds its own. Using laser navigation, the D4 is a fast map maker and, although it’ll only save one floor plan at a time, it is capable of creating no-go zones. It also supports a daily cleaning schedule and can be commanded to clean via Alexa, Google Assistant, and even the Apple Watch. For apartments and smaller homes, the D4 is just what you need to keep up with Fluffy’s fur.

Read our full Neato D4 review.

Best robot vacuums for pet hair: iRobot Roomba i7+

iRobot Roomba i7+ (Image credit: iRobot)

5. iRobot Roomba i7+

Best for daily cleaning

Specifications
Cleaning Performance: 90.4
Pet Hair Score: 90.5
Bin Size: 379 ml
Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Google Home
Size: 13.3 x 3.7 inches
Weight: 7.4 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent navigation+Able to clean just one room+Clean Base is easy to empty+Fast cleaner
Reasons to avoid
-Clean Base is very loud-Cleaning could be more thorough

The iRobot Roomba i7+ was the first robot vacuum with a self-emptying base. Though the base is loud enough to wake your cat from his mid-morning nap, it’s also powerful enough to suck out all of the dander and hair collected from your floors. A disposable vacuum bag inside the Clean Base keeps dust and debris at bay.

The Wi-Fi-connected iRobot Roomba i7+ accurately creates maps of your home’s levels and supports area-specific cleaning and no-go zones. The iRobot Home app will even make cleaning recommendations based on the season, such as suggesting more cleaning runs during Spring shedding season. Like its more expensive sibling, the Roomba s9+, the Roomba i7+ also supports geofenced vacuuming, meaning the vacuum will start when it detects your phone has left the house. No one wants to miss their cat riding a Roomba, so you have the option of continuing the job should you return home before it's completed.

One thing – aside from price – that sets the Roomba i7+ apart from the Roomba s9+ is its gentle navigation. In our Roomba i7+ review, we noted that the vac barely disturbed the dog food bowls in our kitchen while cleaning around them. The Roomba s9+ was a little more aggressive, pushing the mat and bowls askew from their usual location.

Read our full iRobot Roomba i7+ review

How to choose the best robot vacuum for pet hair

You need to consider a few factors before investing in a robot vacuum for you and your pets. First of all, think about how many pets are in your home and how much are they actually shedding. Is it long fur or short fur and are they shedding on a regular basis? You should also consider if you want the robot vacuum to help with other cleaning needs, such as mopping. 

Price is also going to be an important aspect. But, don’t go for the cheapest straight away. While the iLife VS3 Pro comes at a very reasonable price, it doesn’t offer any advanced features such as app connectivity, mapping or no-go zones. Whereas, at $349, the Neato D4 can do all of these things. If you want even more tech, then the Roborock S4 Max features multiple maps and room specific cleaning for only $80 more. You need to balance what features you want with your budget.

Best robot vacuums for pet hair

Photo of Scout, the Incredible Shedding Test Dog (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Allergies need to be considered too. If someone struggles with allergies at home, then a self-emptying robot vacuum might be the best option. It stops dust from being released into the air as regularly. Whichever type you go for, here are six robot vacuum tips and tricks so you can get the most out of your robot. 

Some cats and dogs are terrified of robot vacuum cleaners. The noise and the movement, particularly as they drive towards your pet, can no doubt cause nerves. If your pet is new to robot vacuums, try introducing them slowly, running the bot for a few minutes to start with, until they’re used to each other!

One final note, if your pet tends to have bathroom-related accidents around the home, be sure to clean it up before your robot vacuum finds it. It will only make further mess and can even break your vacuum, so keep an eye on this.   

Features to look out for

  • Self-emptying
    You can find this feature on some of the more premium models, such as the iRobot Roomba s9+ mentioned above. Essentially, the robot vacuum will empty itself into a larger dustbin in the charging base once it’s full, saving you from emptying it as much. This is a great feature to have if you suffer from allergies as dust isn’t released into the air as often.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
    This is quite a common feature to find on robot vacuums nowadays. It means your robot vacuum can connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi. In doing this, you can control and monitor it remotely and this also gives you access to an assortment of features, depending on your model.
  • Hybrid models
    There are hybrid models available which can both vacuum and mop. In our experience, these aren’t as good as dedicated robot vacuums in terms of pick-up. So if you’re dealing with pet hair, stick to a standard robot vacuum for sure.
  • Mapping
    With this feature, a robot vacuum can map-out your home by feeling its way around with sensors during setup. They can then tell where any obstacles are, such as table  legs or the stairs. Using the map, the robot vacuum will then plot the best course for cleaning, rather than moving randomly.  
  • No-go zones
    This comes with models which offer mapping. You can essentially set areas where you don’t want it to go, such as around the pet’s food bowls or around an expensive rug.
  • Targeted rooms
    This is the opposite of no-go zones, where you can set which areas you would like the robot vacuum to focus on. 
  • Multiple floors
    Some robot vacuums can only store one map, which is frustrating if you need it to work on more than one floor. That’s why they’ve now introduced models which can record maps for multiple floors.      
  • Scheduling
    This is one of the most common features you will find for robot vacuum cleaners. Once you’ve connected the model to your smartphone, you can schedule when you would like it to clean, whether daily, weekly or when you’re not at home.
  • Remote control
    If your robot vacuum cleaner doesn’t connect to the Wi-Fi, it might come with a remote control instead. You won’t get as many features on this versus an app, but you can still control your robot vacuum hands-free. 
  • Battery life
    Make sure you consider the battery life of your potential robot vacuum. If it comes with a base, it can charge itself between runs, but if you need to plug it in manually, it might run out of charge part-way through cleaning. 
  • Dust capacity
    A smaller dustbin will need emptying more often, unless you’re lucky enough to own a self-emptying model! Look for a minimum of 400ml capacity for guidance.     

How to clean a robot vacuum

After collecting shedded fur as well as any other dirt and debris, your robot vacuum cleaner naturally needs to be cleaned. Dustbins can be as small as 400ml, so these need emptying after every run, unless you’re lucky enough to own a self-emptying model. Each time you empty the bin, check the rotating brush at the same time and look out for any tangled hair or pet fur. This should be cut free rather than pulled to prevent damage. On top of this, you need to inspect the filter and clean it regularly according to your manual. The filter will also need to be replaced occasionally — again refer to your manual for guidance on when to replace and where to buy. Some brands, including Eufy, iLife, Neato, and Roborock will also supply a cleaning tool to help with regular maintenance. 

If you don’t clean your robot vacuum, it will be detrimental to its performance. Once the dustbin is full, it won’t collect anymore debris and will simply drag around any dirt. 

If your robot vacuum connects with an app, it might offer maintenance advice and reminders. Some can even schedule in dates to buy replacement filters.  

Robot vacuum pet hair test results
Overall Pet Hair ScoreHardwood Pet Hair ScoreCarpet Pet Hair Score
iLife V3s Pro*99.510099
iRobot Roomba s9+989997
Roborock S4 Max9410088
Neato D4*91.2587.595
iRobot Roomba i7+*90.58893

*Same test performed in a larger 15’ x 15’ area.

How we tested the best robot vacuums for pet hair

All of the robot vacuums we review are subjected to both our lab tests and in-home, real world use over several days. The test results, user experience, price, and features relative to competing models weigh into our overall star rating.

In evaluating the best robot vacuums for pet hair, we primarily chose them based on their scores in our pet hair pick up lab tests.

The lab tests are three separate tests run twice – once on hardwood and once on low pile carpet. In a 5-foot-by-5-foot area, we measure how effective each vacuum is at picking up 2 grams of dog hair (primarily sourced from an English Cream Golden Retriever), 20 grams of kitty litter, and 20 grams of Cheerios cereal. As long as the dog hair is collected by some part of the robot vacuum, such as the side brush or main brush roll, it’s counted. Older models were subject to the same tests, but in a larger 15-foot-by-15-foot area.

Real world testing isn’t as rigid as our lab tests, though we test all of the features in each vacuum. Most commonly, this includes mapping out the first floor of the reviewer’s home and evaluating it for accuracy. This also includes how easy or hard it is to make map adjustments, such as room divisions and drawing no-go zones. Our reviewer looks at the dustbin: Is it hard to access? How much force is needed to open the dustbin? Does dust go flying everywhere? How easy is it to clean the brush roll, side brush, and wheels?

Household terrain is also considered. Does the robot vacuum get caught up on small rugs? Is it able to cross a common threshold? Does it get stuck in a maze of dining room chairs? How about under the couch? These are just some of the questions our reviewer answers when evaluating each robot vacuum.