In this Guide
Shark and Dyson are two of the biggest brands in vacuums today.
But which brand is better?
Both brands have elaborate marketing campaigns, commercials, and infomercials touting their innovative, easy-to use vacuums.
Are they really as revolutionary as they claim?
A vacuum is a big purchase, so you want to make sure you’re making the right choice!
We researched how the brands perform outside of the infomercial studio! We looked at expert reviews from the folks at Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and other publications, to see how each of the vacuums did in impartial testing.
Most importantly, we took the time to comb through hundreds of reviews from previous buyers. We wanted to get a real sense of how these vacuums performed in a house, and how they held up over time.
To compare the brands, we asked a few questions:
How do they stack up to the commercials?
How do they compare to each other?
And, most importantly:
Which is better for buyers on a budget?
We decided to make a thorough comparison of the two brands here on this page. We’ve split our reviews by category, to see what each brand has to offer for each type of vacuum.
Based on our extensive research, we chose what we think are the most affordable and effective vacuums from Shark and Dyson in each category.
In our in-depth reviews, we’ll take you through all the important features of each model. We’ll show you how they compare to others within the brand, and to models from the competition.
– Shark Rotator
– Dyson Ball Multi Floor
– Shark Rocket
A Little Brand History
Dyson burst onto the scene in the early 1990s. They immediately gained a reputation as an innovator in the vacuum market, pioneering cyclonic suction and their signature wheel-free central ball steering mechanism.
Their vacuums have continued to win design awards around the world, and are now some of the top selling high-end models on the market.
Shark has been around as Euro-Pro for almost 100 years. However, the company really got its second wind in the 1990s and 2000s with a whole slew of infomercials and snazzy advertising that promised cheap, convenient, and effective vacuums for the average consumer.
Their vacuums have a great reputation for being affordable, and start under the $100 mark — about 1/3 the price of a Dyson.
Shark has also competed with “never loses suction” sealed air systems, and lots of smart crossover vacuums which take the top features of canister, upright, and stick vacuums, and put them together in one package.
Our Guide to the Dyson and Shark Vacuums in Each Category
Top Upright Vacuums
Dyson Ball 2 Multi Floor
Dyson’s least expensive upright is a powerful, cyclonic system with full HEPA filtration.
We like it for its smart design features, like its ball joint maneuverability and the self-adjusting brush head.
It’s extremely powerful. The Multi Floor uses radial cyclone technology to create a heck of a lot of suction in the canister. The system has several layered cyclones going at once, while many models use just one! The company says it boasts “the strongest suction of any vacuum,” and tested the competition to prove it!
Cyclonic suction also helps preserve filter life. It draws smaller debris and dust away from filters, which means you won’t have interrupted suction as the dust chamber fills up.
Instead of wheels, the Multi Floor rides on a central ball. That gives it better maneuverability around corners and furniture, since it has a practically non-existent turning radius.
The brush head adjusts itself automatically to your floor. It’ll adjust the speed of the roller brush, and cater the height setting to lock in suction. By contrast, Shark uprights don’t have adjustable height settings.
The Multi Floor also sports a sealed air system that’s HEPA-certified to filter airborne allergens. They’ll be trapped in the dust chamber, instead of making their way back into your home. The dust canister is extra large, and opens hygienically with a trapdoor.
It also comes with an extension hose and wand, which release with one fluid motion. You won’t have to stop and reassemble the vacuum in order to switch between cleaning modes.
The Multi Floor is covered by a 5-year warranty.
The hard plastic ball and wheels aren’t the good choice for delicate hardwoods and tile. They could scratch finishes, if you’re not careful.
The downside of the ball system is that it doesn’t fit under furniture very easily. You’ll have to move or vacuum around low coffee tables and chairs.
Previous buyers said that the plastic construction felt flimsier than they anticipated, especially for the price. They questioned whether the Multi Floor would really stand up to 10 years of use, as the brand claims to have tested for.
You can’t adjust the suction manually. Some reviewers said the Multi Floor latched itself onto carpets and was hard to push. That’s one downside of this brand’s automatic systems.
Shark Navigator Deluxe
The Navigator Deluxe is one of Shark’s most budget-friendly uprights.
At around the $100, it offers all the basic features of a great upright without breaking the bank. It has strong suction, a powered brush head, and all the essential attachments for tackling edges and high places.
The brush head is fully powered. That’s a bit of a rarity at this price point, and a big plus when you consider that plenty of Dyson canisters use only air-powered brushes.
We also love the clear window on the top of the brush head. It lets you see what’s going on inside, so you can tell if there’s a tangle without flipping the whole thing over.
It comes with all the basic attachments you need, including a crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery tool.
It’s just as light as the Dyson, at about 15 pounds.
The intake feed bypasses the filters, so it never loses suction — even if the filters get dirty. The filters are easy to remove, and are hand-washable.
It’s covered by a 5-year warranty. That’s extremely impressive for a vacuum around the $100 mark.
The wheels are rubberized to protect your hard flooring. It’s an unexpected advantage over the Dyson, which is more expensive, but uses plastic wheels. One previous buyer said, “The wheels are really great…With my old one, it almost felt like they could scratch the floors, but these are rubberized and glide really smoothly.”
It’s less than a third of the price of the Dyson.
It’s not great for vacuuming under low furniture. The brush head is fairly short, so it doesn’t reach very far without the canister getting involved.
The attachments aren’t exactly deluxe. The dusting brush has short stiff bristles, and the hose is very light plastic.
Previous buyers had pretty mixed experiences with their customer service. While the company has gotten a lot better over the past few years, they’ve had a pretty poor policy of making customers ship vacuums back at their own expense, in the event of problems.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball
The DC Big Ball is the most affordable canister offering from this Brand.
It’s very compact, maneuverable, and powerful. We love its cyclonic suction system, as well as its ball joint maneuverability.
The central ball design gives the canister an incredibly small turn radius. This solves a lot of the maneuverability issues of traditional canisters, which can have a bit of a lag when they’re following you around. This model turns instantly with you, and has fewer issues knocking against furniture and corners.
It never flips over. If you’ve used a traditional canister vacuum before, you know how annoying it can be to have the canister keep turning on its side. It stops your vacuuming, and can cause damage to the vacuum’s casing and motor system. It has a lower center of gravity which makes it much more stable.
The suction system uses tiered cyclones to create more air power than other canister systems.
The trigger-head brush tool works on both carpets and hard flooring. You can control the brushes right from the handle, so there’s no need to bend over as you clean.
The carpet head is air-powered, which eliminates the need for a belt system or motor. This makes it lighter and more reliable than other brush heads.
It can handle low to medium pile carpeting with ease. Previous buyers also said that the relative lightness of the attachments made it easier to use than other models.
The bin empties hygienically over the trash with the push of a button. While the Shark has a similar trapdoor system, previous buyers said this product empties more easily and is less of a pain to access.
It’s covered by a 5-year warranty. While reviewers did have some reliability issues with the brush bar, we found that Dyson’s service coverage was better.
The beater bar for carpets is air-driven. Now, it provides plenty of suction power to get the beater bar going. However, as many previous buyers have confirmed, an air-powered carpet attachment just won’t cut it on deeper, plush rugs. That’s one major flaw from this brand, which costs twice the price of the Shark.
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister
Shark doesn’t make any traditional canister vacuums, so we’ve tried to find the crossover model that’s most like a canister vacuum.
The closest they come is this 3-in-1 model which works as a canister, upright, and lift-away vacuum all at the same time.
You can use it however you want, in whatever format suits the job at hand! The upright mode is great for cleaning deep carpeting, while the canister setup gives you more maneuverability around furniture and walls.
The powered brush head works on all but the deepest carpets. It also has a set of headlights built in, which help you see what you’re doing under coffee tables and in closets. Plus, they make the Rotator look and feel a lot more expensive than it actually is!
The brush roll also switches off, for vacuuming hard floors and delicate rugs.
You can also use the vacuum in canister mode with the straight hard floor attachment. It has a long wand and narrow suction head with soft bristles for vacuuming hard floors and tiles.
This floor head also works well for cleaning stairs, especially in Lift-Away mode. Its shallow depth allows it to fit on even the narrowest stairs and landings. You also won’t have to worry about the canister falling over, since you’re carrying it along.
The 30-foot power cord is one of the longest on the market! It makes this an ideal tool for cleaning up stairwells, and taking it between rooms without having to keep unplugging and replugging the vacuum.
It comes with a basic attachment set, with a crevice tool and dusting brush. There’s also a wide-mouth upholstery tool for working on pet fur and dander.
It doesn’t come with the DustAway hard floor attachment that you’ll find on other models from this brand. While the bigger DustAway attachment with the sweeper pad isn’t completely necessary, the smaller hard floors head on this model just feels less deluxe.
Reviewers said it tends to get bogged down in deep carpets. If you have nap rugs or shag carpeting, you’ll probably want a model with adjustable suction.
The canister caddy isn’t super maneuverable or compact compared to typical canister vacuums.
It is covered by a 5-year warranty that rivals Dyson’s warranty periods, but previous buyers who had issues said they were expected to ship products back on their own dime, and pay for repair costs, as well.
Superior Stick Vacuums
The V8 is a cordless stick vacuum with suction power that rivals most full-size vacuums!
It has integrated their radial cyclonic suction system to fit in a small, lightweight design. This model of the V8 is the most wallet-friendly stick vacuum from this brand.
The V8 has a motorized carpet head. That’s an advantage over even the full size models from the brand, which have air-powered beater brushes. This means that while the V8 is a smaller vacuum, it can actually handle full carpets better than the full-size models. Reviewers said that while the brushes don’t shut off, they didn’t notice any scuffing on hardwoods or tiles.
We particularly love the easy-access system for cleaning the brush head. You can slide the roll out of the casing to untangle and clean it.
The motor/trigger unit is ergonomically designed to feel balanced whether you’re vacuuming on the floor or above your head.
You can use attachments on the end of the cleaning wand, or directly in front of the motor to vacuum in handheld mode.
There’s an optional Max suction mode for tackling tougher tasks. It ramps up the suction power to reach hidden cobwebs and dirt under furniture and under floorboards.
The charging dock also doubles as a convenient storage stand for the vacuum when you’re not using it. Stick models tend to be hard to stand up on their own. Unlike the one that comes with the Shark, this stand doesn’t require you to drill holes in your wall.
It’s extremely lightweight, at less than 5 pounds total. That’s a lot lighter than the Shark. It’s especially impressive given that the V8 is more powerful than the Shark.
Compared to other cordless models, it has a fairly long run time (about 20 minutes). The lithium ion battery pack also means that power doesn’t fade as the batteries run out.
Previous buyers said that Max mode runs down the charge very quickly. They only got about 6 minutes or so of constant suction.
Some reviewers found it annoying that you have to hold down the trigger as you vacuum. It was especially problematic for people with arthritis.
It costs about $100 more than the Rocket. That’s especially hard to swallow, given that it doesn’t come with many attachments.
Shark Rocket Ultra-Light
This crossover model works as a stick vacuum, a powerful upright, and a versatile handheld vacuum. Its corded design provides 30 feet of cleaning range without sacrificing power or cleaning time.
The Rocket is incredibly versatile. The main setting uses a powered brush head for carpets and rugs. Then, you can swap the brush head for the Dust Away hard floor attachment. This is one of our favorite innovations. It combines a suction head with a wide microfiber sweeper pad. The vacuum takes care of surface dirt and larger debris, while the pad traps small dust particles and polishes your hardwood floors!
In addition to the floor heads, you can use the long wand to vacuum above you, tackling cobwebs and high corners. Or, you can take the wand off to use the Rocket as a handheld vacuum.
It’s compact and extremely lightweight. At less than 8 pounds, it isn’t hard to handle. It gets even lighter in handheld mode and in Lift-Away mode, since you’re not carrying the motor head around.
It’s corded, which means it’ll never run out of juice. That means that you can tackle your whole house without worrying about charge time. The 30-foot power cord means you’re not sacrificing range, either. We like the Rocket because it feels like a cordless vacuum, but doesn’t have as many limitations!
It’s equipped with a fully powered brush roll. Plus, the brush head has two adjustable speed settings. The high setting is great for deep cleaning area rugs and carpets, while the low setting helps clean hard floors and delicate or handmade rugs.
The neck joint features swivel steering for better maneuverability around corners and furniture.
It’s bagless. There aren’t any maintenance costs, since there are no bags to purchase and the filters are all washable.
It comes with a wall mount for storage, and can also be stored on the ground with some convenient brackets, which allow the canister to clip onto the wand.
This model comes with a special car detailing kit, with lots of smaller brushes and tools for cleaning the dash, console, and other tricky parts of the car.
You also get all the standard accessories, like a crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery tool. The car kit provides great value for money, and means you won’t have to get a dedicated car vacuum!
Reviewers said the motor head isn’t helpful on their hard floors. Even at the low brush setting, some previous buyers write that it flings dirt and pebbles around the floor without picking them up.
It’s very top-heavy, and doesn’t stand up well on its own. Some previous buyers also said the top-heavy design made it hard to use for long periods of time.
It’s fairly loud.
There’s no air filtration system to speak of. Reviewers also said you’ll have to clean the filters more often than the manual recommends (every few weeks as opposed to every few months).
For a Shark, it’s fairly expensive. At nearly $200, this isn’t as budget friendly as some other models. However, given all the functions, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Top Handheld Vacuums
Dyson V6 Trigger
The V6 Trigger is a handheld vacuum with a full-size vacuum’s power. It’s equipped with the brand’s signature radial cyclone suction system, just like the V6 stick vacuum. We can’t help but admire its sheer power, as well as its smart ergonomic design.
It’s tested to produce twice the suction of any other handheld vacuum. That’s thanks to its layered cyclonic system, which combines 15 individual cyclones inside the suction chamber. There’s also a Max suction function for tougher spots. Previous buyers said it’s ideal for vacuuming between cushions and car seats where the crevice tool can’t quite reach.
In addition to providing more power, the radial cyclone system also draws debris away from the filter system. This maintains constant suction by keeping the filters clear of finer dust and dirt particles that would ordinarily be drawn to the air intake system.
It’s ergonomically designed to place the center of gravity in your hand, rather than out in front of you. This makes it easier to use for long periods of time, and at odd angles. It’s a good example of what you’re paying extra for: smarter design which makes things less of a hassle to use.
It’s very light, weighing less than 4 pounds in all.
It has impressive battery life, for such a powerful vacuum. Normal cleaning mode will last you about 20 minutes.
It recharges quickly, within 3.5 hours. The lithium ion batteries don’t fade as they die, so you can vacuum at full power up to the last second.
You can empty the dust compartment by pressing a button, without taking any parts off or making adjustments. You just hold the vacuum over the trash, and release the bottom trap door.
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.
Max power mode only gives you about 6 minutes of vacuuming time. However, most previous buyers said that normal suction was plenty for their cleaning needs.
It only comes with two attachments, the crevice tool and a dusting brush. Some previous buyers said they were a bit disappointed not to get anything else in the box.
The brand makes accessory kits for these, but they’re sold separately and can cost upwards of $75. Thankfully, you can use attachments from other standard size models on the V8.
Some previous buyers reported electrical problems after the warranty period. Their battery lights started flashing, and it wouldn’t turn on. We weren’t able to find out how those situations were resolved.
Shark Rocket Corded
The Rocket is a powerful corded handheld vacuum. We love it because it’s a complete vacuuming kit, with a powered brush head and an attachment set for cleaning hard-to-reach spots. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than the Dyson.
The corded design means you don’t have to worry about running out of charge. That makes the it a better choice for more time-consuming tasks like vacuuming the car or cleaning out pet enclosures!
It includes a powered brush head. It’s extra wide, with a 6” nozzle and motorized brush for scrubbing pet fur off fabric upholstery and carpeted stairs. That’s a big plus over the other brand if you have a car with cloth seats, or a full-size vacuum without a turbo brush attachment. You’ll be able to clean carpeted stairs and upholstery without so much elbow grease!
The Rocket also comes with a long extension hose, as well as a crevice wand. These give it a bit more reach.
It’s just as light as the Dyson, even with the motorized brush!
It’s half the price of the V6, and comes with far more attachments.
It’s not as powerful as the V6. The lack of cyclonic suction also means the filters get dirty faster.
While it is covered by a 5-year warranty and the Dyson is only covered for 2 years, previous buyers had poor experiences with Shark’s customer service. They said the company asked them to ship products back at their own expense. Since this model has been out for a while, we were able to find more recent reviews which said the company has been improving.
Should You Buy a Shark or a Dyson?
In the Upright Category:
The Shark Navigator is by far the most affordable choice in the upright category, at less than 1/3 the price of the Dyson Multi Floor.
It serves all the basic functions of a good upright, with a powered carpet brush and a standard attachment set. However, the Dyson has vastly more powerful suction and better maneuverability, thanks to its ball joint.
Both vacuums are ideal for people with a lot of carpet in their homes, as they have slightly lower performance on hard floors.
Since it’s so much less expensive, we recommend the Shark to buyers on a budget.
If you’re looking for a long-term investment, though, we strongly recommend going with the Dyson.
It costs more up front, but has a better reliability record and sturdier attachments. You’re much less likely to have to buy another Dyson Multi Floor than a Shark Navigator.
For Canister Vacuums:
In the canister category, there’s a bit more of a difference between our two picks.
The Shark isn’t a true canister vacuum, so it feels a bit unfair to stack it up against the Dyson. In canister mode, it’s less maneuverable and more clunky to navigate around your house.
However, the Shark actually performs better on carpet (since it has a powered brush head). The Dyson may have higher suction, but its air-powered beater brush just isn’t ideal for medium to deep pile carpeting.
The Shark’s hard floor attachment with brushes also protects delicate hardwoods better than the Dyson’s combo tool.
We’d recommend the Shark to people who have a real mix of flooring, including some deeper carpets. Given its price, the Shark is also the obvious choice for people who are on a tight budget.
The Dyson is a better choice for people with mainly low-pile and flatter carpeting. As we said in the upright category, we recommend the Dyson to buyers who are looking to save money over the long term, since its reliability record is better than the Shark’s.
For Stick Vacuums:
Our picks in the stick vacuum category both have powered brush heads that can handle carpets of any kind. They’re both more than capable of handling your carpets and rugs. The Shark has the edge for hard floors, with its Dust-Away sweeper attachment. It also comes with more attachments than the Dyson V8.
The Dyson has a lot more power than the Shark, because of its cyclonic suction. However, the Shark gives you more cleaning time, because it’s cordless.
Again, we think the Shark is the clear choice for a good vacuum, because it’s $100 cheaper than the Dyson, and has comparable function and reliability.
However, if you want more suction power, and can afford the upfront cost, the Dyson does offer better performance and smarter ergonomics that make vacuuming with it more pleasant.
In the Handheld Category:
The handheld models we’ve reviewed are fairly similar to the stick vacuum matchup. After all, the V6 handheld is just the V6 stick vacuum without the stick.
Again, the Dyson provides a lot higher suction power than the Shark, and has better balance and smarter ergonomic design.
However, it’s so much pricier that we have a hard time justifying the cost to a buyer on a budget. The Shark simply offers much more value for money, since it comes with so many more attachments.
That’s especially obvious when you look at the fact that the Shark comes with a fully powered brush head, and the Dyson only comes with a crevice tool and a dusting brush. If you’re looking for the handheld vacuum, the Shark is your best bet.
How to Shop for Shark vs. Dyson Vacuums
Consider your budget:
While both Shark and Dyson fit a wide price range, Dyson does have a higher baseline price point.
Canister and upright models generally aren’t available below $300, while Shark makes models that start under $100 for stick models, and peak around $300 or so for full-size models.
If you’re looking to spend less than $300, you’ll probably want a Shark.
If you can afford something between $300 and $400, Dysons offers pretty sizable power upgrades, thanks to cyclonic suction. They also have much longer warranty periods.
However, they do require a bigger initial investment.
In short, Dyson aren’t really known for cheap vacuums. However, they have released some more affordable models in recent years.
We’ve found that the most affordable Dysons are the models without the “Animal” or “Deluxe” packaging. These basic Dysons don’t come with as many attachments, but they can run $100 cheaper than the more expensive models!
Think about durability:
Both Shark and Dyson are made primarily with plastic parts.
As a rule, Dyson models do tend to last longer. They use heavier plastic, and have fewer issues overall.
However, that’s changing.
Dyson models have been built increasingly cheaply, and loyal buyers have written online that quality control is lacking. In particular, Dyson’s air-driven brush bars have a bad reputation for holding up over time.
By contrast, Shark has always had the reputation of being a little more cheaply made and disposable than Dyson. In recent years, though, Shark seems to have upped their game, and are starting to compete with Dyson on the reliability front.
Now, the companies are fairly comparable in terms of durability and reliability.
We’re still giving Dyson the edge, though, since they do have higher reliability ratings overall. They also have fewer complaints about bad customer service and warranty coverage.
While Shark has been improving, we have still read about plenty of cases in which customers had to ship their purchases back to Shark on their own dime to have them repaired.
Dyson’s approach seems to be more about sending replacement parts to customers, rather than insisting that the vacuum be returned.
Both brands have their own claim to the power throne.
Shark boasts “never loses suction” systems which use an unfiltered intake feed to make sure you don’t lose power.
Dyson’s approach is to provide more power upfront, with cyclonic suction. These systems also solve the filter problem at the same time, since they divert more of the smaller dust and dirt particles into the bin, away from the filters and motor.
In general, Dysons have much more suction power than Sharks.
Almost all of Shark’s vacuums are some sort of crossover or hybrid. This means they’re inherently more versatile than Dyson’s.
Granted, Dyson products are very maneuverable with their ball steering, so they’ll reach lots of tricky places.
However, Dyson don’t tend to include many attachments with their models. Instead, they sell separate attachment sets.
These can cost up to $75 and beyond, which isn’t very appealing to the budget buyer. While Sharks might be less powerful, they come with more attachments and more vacuuming modes straight out of the box.
So, while Dysons can be just as versatile, they aren’t as versatile without making even more of an investment.