Shark vs. Dyson: Which Vacuum Is Better?

We put six of these popular models to the test.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Shark vs Dyson
Photo: amazon.com

Not all vacuums are created equal. When you're looking to suck up cereal or de-fur your furniture from your constantly shedding dog, you'll want to reach for a powerful, high-quality vacuum that can clear up that mess in one swipe.

If you've done your research, you're familiar with popular vacuum brands Shark and Dyson. Dyson has been a fan favorite for years with its highly recognizable purple color and powerful suction. Shark is not a newcomer to the cleaning scene, but it's gaining popularity due to its design-focused vacuums and more affordable prices.

Which vacuum is right for you? We put six popular Shark and Dyson vacuums head-to-head in several studio and at-home tests to find out.

Models We Tested

  • Best Attachments: Dyson Humdinger
    This powerful handheld vacuum comes with an assortment of high-quality attachments to tackle any mess.
  • Best for Small Spaces: Shark Wandvac Handheld
    This slim vacuum sucks up debris in a flash, and the charging dock makes storage simple and efficient.
  • Best Splurge: Dyson v8 Animal
    This classic stick vacuum from Dyson is a popular household choice. It's easy to use and sucks up anything in its path, but at $400, it's an investment.
  • Best Budget: Shark Wandvac
    At half the price of the Dyson v8 Animal, the Shark Wandvac packs powerful suction into a sleek stick vacuum that easily converts into a handheld.
  • Best Design: Shark Upright Vertex Lift-Away
    This upright vacuum effortlessly transforms into a lift-away canister, and the rose gold accents make it luxe.
  • Best Suction: Dyson Ball Animal 2
    The most powerful of all vacuums tested. No dust was left behind when this beast was in motion.

How We Tested

We tested comparable Shark and Dyson vacuum models side by side to note how they stood up to each other. We ran them through a series of studio tests that involved vacuuming whole and crushed cereal, dirt, cat litter, synthetic pet hair, and long hair over several surfaces: low and high pile carpet, a shag and textured rug, as well as tile.

vacuum
Erica Snyder

Shark and Dyson also filled us in on how they test their products in the development stage.

"We put our machines through an intense variety of durability and performance tests, ensuring that Dyson machines maintain their peak performance not just for day one, but for years of use. From a durability side, vacuums are dropped from tall heights, rammed into immovable objects… all to ensure that Dyson machines are made for the real world, not just the labs," said Dyson design manager Josh Mutlow.

Alex Moschella, manager, product development at Shark, says they do everything from test the individual components of the vacuums to quite literally throw them down the stairs to make sure they hold up.

"We break it down from performance testing all the way down to individual component testing. These tests range from high cycle count drop tests to battery testing, to environmental testing, performance testing, and most important of all, our direct-to-consumer testing through in-home consumer reviews," said Moschella.

We may not be throwing our vacuums down any stairs, but we did knock them over to see how they held up against the types of impacts that happen during everyday use. We also conducted in-home trials and polled editors who've owned these models for six months or more to uncover how they perform over time.

dyson humdinger vacuum with confetti
Erica Snyder

What to Consider When Shopping for a Vacuum

Once you've decided to invest in a high-quality vacuum, there are a few things you want to consider before you take the plunge.

Suction strength

Perhaps the most crucial feature of your vacuum is its suction strength. You'll, of course, want one that has powerful suction, but it's important to look for a vacuum with different suction levels so that you can turn down the suction power while vacuuming a throw rug, but turn it up if you've got a large mess on your hands.

"What's crucial is that our [Dyson] machines are engineered to be fully sealed and have no loss of suction. That means that, unlike other machines, our vacuums won't spit out dust, allergens, and other debris that your vacuum is meant to be picking up," said Mutlow.

Storage

If you've got a dedicated closet for cleaning supplies or a large utility room, you might not be concerned about finding a spot for a giant upright vacuum cleaner. However, if you live in a small apartment or don't have excess storage space, opt for a vacuum cleaner that can either fold over, break into smaller parts, or mount on the wall to save space.

The Shark Wandvac comes apart and locks into a charging station for easy storage, while the Dyson v8 Animal mounts to your wall.

Attachments

Clever vacuum attachments can take your machine to the next level of cleaning—if you use them. If you're only going to use your vacuum on your flooring, attachments might not be important to you. However, if you're looking to vacuum couches, curtains, and shelving units, you'll want to take a good look at the attachments and accessories included with your vacuum purchase.

Dyson's attachments are multifunctional and durable, with features like the sliding brush and an easy-to-secure clicking feature that gives you confidence your attachment is on tightly. Shark's attachments are a little less impressive, but we found the Pet Power Brush a useful accessory for picking up pet hair.

Warranty

What happens if you've invested in a quality vacuum only to have it break after six months of use? Both Shark and Dyson offer limited warranties on their products, but neither covers normal wear-and-tear.

The Shark Wandvac handheld, the Dyson handheld, and the Dyson v8 Animal are covered under a two-year limited warranty. Both the Shark and Dyson upright vacuums we tested are covered under a five-year limited warranty, as is the Shark Wandvac cordless stick vacuum.

Shark vs Dyson
amazon.com

Shark vs. Dyson Handheld Vacuum

What you'll love about both: Clever design, easy-to-empty-bins, small size
You should know: Both of the dustbins are very small, and there is no battery light indicator on either.
The winner: Dyson Humdinger

At 1.4 pounds, the handheld Shark Wandvac is lightweight, sleek, and beautiful, available in graphite, gold, rose gold, and blue. The charging dock stores the vacuum upright so that it can easily fit into a cabinet or corner of your room. This handheld vacuum excelled at our tests, picking up whole and crushed cereal more quickly than the Dyson.

The Dyson Humdinger is still lightweight at 2.1 pounds and has the classic purple Dyson design and a low "hum" when you turn it off. It comes with a wall dock for easy vertical storage, and it sucked up cat litter more efficiently than the Shark in our tests.

Shark vs Dyson
Erin Johnson

Both of these handheld vacuums proved to be exceptional in our studio tests, and our at-home testers enjoyed reaching for these for quick daily cleanups. Both of the dust bins are very small, and while our Shark Wandvac tester had to empty the bin after each use, the Dyson was able to hold a few days' worth of debris. The Dyson's slightly larger bin, multifunctional attachments, and powerful suction make it the winner of the handheld category, but the handheld Shark comes in a close second.

Amina Lake Abdelrahman, product reviews writer

I love that the Dyson handheld vacuum is so lightweight and compact. It's a lot easier to lift around than my regular stick vacuum is in its handheld mode. I'm amazed by how easy it is to empty directly in the garbage can—no need to take the dustbin apart or get my hands dirty. The two-in-one crevice tool was also impressive because it meant I had one less attachment to keep track of and store in my apartment.

Amina Lake Abdelrahman, product reviews writer

Dyson Humdinger: $300; bestbuy.com; $300; bedbathandbeyond.com; $300; dyson.com
Shark Wandvac Handheld: $120 (was $130); amazon.com ; $120; sharkclean.com

Shark vs Dyson
amazon.com

Shark vs. Dyson Stick Vacuum

What you'll love about both: They both break down to smaller sizes for easy storage and can quickly transform into handhelds with the click of a button.
You should know: The Wandvac's dustbin is very small, and by the end of our tests, both the Shark and Dyson batteries had died. Also, neither stood upright on their own.
The winner: Shark Wandvac

The Shark Wandvac was a tester favorite. It comes in an array of colors and easily breaks down for efficient storage. It's marketed for everyday cleans instead of deep cleans, which is evident in the tiny dustbin size. The Shark Wandvac is a handheld vacuum first and foremost and a full-size stick vacuum second, but its suction is surprisingly powerful, and at almost half the price of the Dyson, it's a great buy.

Katie Holdefehr, Real Simple senior editor

Living in a small apartment with a cat who sheds constantly, I love that the extended crevice attachment on the Shark Wandvac makes it easy to clean up fur from every single nook and cranny around the house—even in between kitchen appliances and along baseboards… Lightweight, nimble, and surprisingly powerful, this is a great vacuum for anyone who lives in a small space.

Katie Holdefehr, Real Simple senior editor

The Dyson v8 Animal is popular among its customers for a reason: its powerful suction. The dustbin is much larger than the Shark's, and it offers a max suction level and regular suction, but you do have to hold down the trigger for the entirety of your clean. Our at-home tester found that it's a little painful to hold the button down long enough to clean a one-bedroom apartment.

Shark Wandvac: $200 (was $240), amazon.com; $200 (was $240), sharkclean.com
Dyson v8 Animal: $350 (was $400), bestbuy.com; $400, dyson.com

Shark vs Dyson
amazon.com

Shark vs. Dyson Upright Vacuum

What you'll love about both: Powerful suction, extra-large canisters, easy lift-away feature
You should know: These are both bulky and heavy to lift.
The winner: It's a tie!

This corded Vertex upright vacuum from Shark was slightly more lightweight and more accessible to maneuver than the Dyson upright, but it's still cumbersome and bulky. However, once we finished testing this vacuum, it looked like the carpets had been professionally cleaned. The lift-away feature and attachments are so easy to use; you could confidently deep clean every corner of your home with the Shark Vertex Upright.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 was the most powerful vacuum we tested. It sucked up everything in its path. It also has a canister that lifts away for easy deep cleaning, but the Shark's was a bit more lightweight and user-friendly.

Shark and Dyson claim to have tangle-free brushrolls on these units, but they both tangled hair in our tests. However, the Shark was able to suck up more hair, and it was easier to cut out of the brushroll due to its design. Both of these powerful upright vacuums will leave you with that professional-clean feeling, and at similar price points, it comes down to personal design preference.

Shark vs Dyson
Amina Lake Abdelrahman

Erin Johnson, Senior Product Reviews Writer

These vacuum cleaners are super powerful and excelled in our studio tests. They sucked up everything in their wake, and when our tests were complete, their dustbins weren't even close to being full. While the Dyson was slightly more powerful, the Shark's easy-to-lift-away canister made it a favorite.

Erin Johnson, Senior Product Reviews Writer

Shark Upright Vertex Lift-Away: $300 (was $480), amazon.com; $300 (was $450), bedbathandbeyond.com; $400, sharkclean.com
Dyson Ball Animal 2: $500, bestbuy.com; $500, dyson.com

Comparing the Vacuums

Type Price Weight Dustbin Size Warranty
Dyson Humdinger Handheld $300 2.1 pounds 0.2 quarts 2 years
Shark Wandvac Handheld Handheld $120 1.4 pounds 0.08 quarts 2 years
Dyson v8 Animal Cordless Stick $400 5.6 pounds 0.56 quarts 2 years
Shark Wandvac Cordless Stick $240 5.8 pounds 0.13 quarts 5 years
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Upright $500 17.5 pounds 1.1 quarts 5 years
Shark Vertex Lift-Away Upright $480 16.4 pounds 1 quart 5 years
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