WoW Hunter Pet Guide
We get this question at
least once a day on the forums: "What is the best pet?" The answer
is complicated and it's silly to be saying "it depends" all the
time, and tiresome to continually point people at Petopia, so I
thought I'd make this thread to lay the question to rest. It's a
culmination of data drawn from experience, the data collection of
the Good Intentions Guild and Petopia, and the input of the many
hunters on this forum. Hopefully, it will finally be some kind of
definitive response to the question, "I've got this new spell, now
what should I tame?"
The answer, as so many do, begins with another question: What kind
of pet do you want? Hunter pets break down into three basic
Tank pets take a lot of hits
without flinching, while you lay on the damage. They're a good
choice for leveling, because they don't have much problem surviving
long battles or adds.
DPS pets deal more damage than
other pets but tend to be a little flimsy. They're nearly a
must-have for serious PvPers, because in PvP people don't really
attack your pets, so their tanking function is basically moot and
you want to squeeze out as much damage as you can.
Middle-of-the-road pets are pretty
sturdy and decent damage-dealers, but not exceptional at either.
They're good pets for players who ask a lot of different things from
them - solo PvE one day, guild Warsong game the next - and need them
to perform well whenever.
Keep in mind that these are general inclinations, not hard and fast
laws. An owl can tank perfectly well if you spec it for that - it's
just that it will never be able to take quite as much punishment as
a tank-specced bear. That's important so I'll say it again: The
difference between different classes of pet is less than 5%, so
the most important thing is to find something that suits your
playstyle, that's easy for you to feed and that you don't mind
MY OVERALL, BROAD SWEEPING RECS
If you don't have the patience to consider all the info I'm about to
dump on you and then pick your own pet, here's my advice.
If you want something that will take a beating for you while you do
all the damage, get a bear or a boar.
If you want something that will chew off faces in PvP, get a cat.
Probably the Rake, Broken Tooth or a Frostsaber Cat, depending on
If you want something that will do pretty well in any situation, get
a wolf or a vulture.
SOME INITIAL CONCERNS
There used to be two other things we worried about when choosing a
pet - attack speed and pursuit speed. Pursuit speed has been negated
by the 1.8 patch, so if you care if your pet can catch something,
all you should look at is the ability to learn Dive/Dash. If you're
a serious PvPer this is a skill you MUST have.
Attack speed is still around, though, at least for now, and here's
what it means. Most pets attack at 2.0. Some, mostly cats, have
faster attack speeds, making them great for caster interrupts in PvP.
There is a school of thought, however, that favors 2.0 attack cats,
because Prowl multiplies the first hit the cat makes out of stealth,
and a slower cat gains a greater bonus from this.
A BREAKDOWN OF THE SEVENTEEN FAMILIES OF PET
The following sections owe a great debt to Bamoo and Mania of
Petopia, whence much of this information is drawn. Their dedication
and generosity in gathering and sharing pet data with the hunter
community is humbling and awesome. Some data is also taken from the
Good Intentions Guild, who also rock.
Health: At 60. "High" is around
3300, "medium" around 3000, and "low" around 2800. Remember that
magic ignores armor, so health may be more important to your tank or
raid pet than armor.
Armor: At 60. "High" is around
3900, "medium" around 3700, and "low" around 3500.
DPS: At 60. "High" is around 54,
"medium" around 50, and "low" around 47.
Diet: The more things a pet eats,
the easier it is to feed, particularly at low levels when getting an
appropriate vendor is hard. Meat, fish and bread are the easiest
foods to come by, in that order, because meat drops and most
innkeepers sell it, fish can be fished, and bread can be conjured.
Fungus is very hard to find Alliance side, cheese is fairly rare
Horde side, and fruit in general is rare.
Abilities: Of Dash/Dive, Bite and
Claw, what this pet can learn (all pets can learn Growl and Cower).
Family ability: The special attack
only this type of pet can learn.
Special mobs: Any members of this
family that stand out from the rest, for one reason or another.
When and where do I tame my pets at?
do not have a complete list with me, I can reference you to a guide
that strategically tells you what pets to tame and when to tame pets
with the famous hunter leveling guide by Joana, you can
get it here
for a small price, I think it's well worth it in my opinion.
Bread, cheese, fish, fruit, fungus, meat
ability: None to date
Bears are a classic tank choice. The ability to learn both bite and
claw means they can generate more hate than their low base DPS
suggests, and there's nothing you can carry that they won't eat.
They're also available at pretty much every level of the game,
making them easy to pick up at any time. Their main weakness is the
lack of Dash, and they're still waiting on a defining ability. Also,
if you care about that sort of thing, their animations are pathetic.
No idles, no sitting, and their jaws never close. Go ask a druid
friend to take his form, and get a look at his face. Yeah, bears
look like that.
mobs: In Winterspring lives the
white bear Ursius, with an amazingly slow 2.4 attack speed, and even
slower are the young forest bears of Elwynn at 2.5. This means a pet
that hits less often but for bigger crits, which can make for better
aggro control. Thanks to Bram and Durex for this tip.
If you really like the white bear look and can't wait 'till
Winterspring, there are two white bears in Dun Morogh - Mangeclaw, a
level 11 quest mob on a maybe 40 second respawn timer, and Bjarn, a
level 12 rare spawn. If you're Horde this is one hell of a long
walk, good luck.
Medium-high (baseline +4%)
Medium-high (baseline +4%)
Bread, cheese, fish, fruit, fungus, meat
Boars are the fast tank. Both charge and dash let them pick up the
pace to catch or pre-empt an opponent, and the AP bonus from charge
can provide a nice opener. There's a lot to be said for a pet who
can root your foe anywhere you want. Their broad diet is another
nice plus. And if you want a unique pet, boars are completely unique
among beasts for their medium-high armor and medium-high health.
Auzduk would also like me to remind you that boars have more idle
animations than average and generally show a fair amount of
personality, comparable to tallstriders, wolves or cats (although
like most pets, they don't have a swimming animation).
mobs: In Razorfen Kraul, there are
a particular set of boars which wear armor. This is just a visual
thing, it doesn't actually affect their stats at all, but many
hunters find the idea of an armored boar really damn cool, and they
can be pretty imposing at higher levels. These are the Rotting,
Raging, and Plain-Old Agam'ar boars.
ability: None to date
Crabs are rare, but have a few things to recommend them. They hold
their own well in a fight with Claw and moderate DPS. They're very
easy to feed if you like fishing, and they have a low profile making
them easier to see over in combat. Plus they're huge at 60,
which is kind of nifty to see. Their low health makes them less
effective defensively against casters, though, and they suffer from
a lack of distinctive abilities and relative world rarity.
mobs: All crabs are created equal.
The only restriction to picking one up is that you should try to do
so by your mid-40s, as they disappear from the gameworld at that
ability: None to date
You won't see many hunters with crocs, and it's mostly for one
reason: they make this noise, sort of a broken-vacuum-y rasp, ALL
THE TIME. It's like this CONSTANT Darth Vader-cum-Iron Lung thing
following you around. Most hunters hate it, and those who don't mind
often get grief from raid buddies who do. If you don't mind it,
though, you've got a unique pet with a low profile and a nasty bite.
mobs: Crocs all have the same stats
after taming. However, there is a white croc skin found only in
three places: the Wailing Caverns, on a rare in Dustwallow, and on a
simply huge creature called the Sewer Beast, a level 50 croc who
lives in the Stormwind Canal. No seriously. He's very, very rare,
but a great deal of fun to tame, because hey, you've tamed a croc
that grew to enormous size in the sewers, and how many hunters can
Gorillas are a late-level pet, not showing up until STV. They're
unusually good tanks due to their AoE and medium DPS, and can often
hold a group of mobs against a Volley or Multishot. They also have
more animations than average, which annoys some and pleases others.
Con-wise, their diet is a pain in the ass, but the biggest drawback
IMO? You can't tame A-Me, the quest robot gorilla in Un'Goro. How
cool would that be? CYBER-APE OF DOOM!
mobs: There aren't any really
special apes, apart from A-me, who as I said you can't tame. /sad
But worthy of note is the red-skinned U'cha, a named quest mob found
in a cave in Un'goro crater. I bring him up because he's the
highest-level ape in the game, and not a huge hassle for a 60 hunter
who decides she wants some simian artillery, and because he's not
mentioned on Petopia, so those who stop looking there might miss
ability: Scorpid poison
The big thing to be aware of with scorpids is scorpid poison, which
will break crowd control and keep things chasing you longer than
they otherwise would, should you choose to run. A low profile and
some very slick skins make this a visually enticing choice, however.
mobs: Death Flayer, a scorpid in
Durotar, has a fast 1.6 attack speed. If you're Alliance and
interested in him, or any other scorpid at that level, you're in for
a bit of a hike, as they live in mostly Horde areas until the 30s.
Cheese, fruit, fungus
ability: None to date
The key to the tallstrider is dash. They're fast and durable, with
medium DPS to keep the attention of your enemies. They also have
some neat idle animations and some bright, attractive skins. On the
flip side, they suffer from an annoying diet and a lack of a family
mobs: Tallstriders have a couple of
interesting variations. There are two unique skins, the bright pink
flamingo-like Mazzranache of Mulgore and the blue and orange
Clutchmother in Darkshore. People may warn you off Mazz, but it
means they missed the last patch - he used to have a
slower-than-normal pursuit speed, but pet pursuit has been
normalized so have no fear about picking him up. Also worth checking
out are Ornery Plainstriders, which dwell in the Barrens and enjoy a
1.3 attack speed.
ability: Shell shield
Turtles are durable, and shell shield gives them that last extra bit
of life against a particularly brutal opponent or when you need them
to off-tank for just a few seconds more (although if you're going to
use that skill, please wait until 1.10. Trust me). And who doesn't
love to say "chelonian"? But there are a few things to keep in mind.
Turtles are bigger than you think they are, and can block your view,
and though their listed DPS isn't meaningfully lower than a
scorpid's or a boar's, they don't have charge or poison to make up
the difference. This means they can have trouble keeping a mob's
attention, especially if you use shell shield.
mobs: A turtle is a turtle is a
turtle. For now, there are no unusual chelonians, not even a unique
skin (see, I told you "chelonian" is fun to say).
Bats are often considered a good PvP pet. Screech is a useful debuff
to have when you're flapping over the flag where everyone's
clustered, and many players enjoy the large obstruction to
visibility caused by the wingspan and hover height of this pet.
Mobs: The bat family has one great
hero: the Bloodseeker Bat, a resident of Zul'Gurub. With a blazing
1.0 attack speed and a lighting fast pursuit speed, this was once
the must-have beast for endgame PvP. Since the speed normalization,
he chases only as fast as Dive can take him, but his attack speed
remains and is nothing to sneer at.
Bite, claw, dash
Cats are a perennial favorite, and looking at their stats it's easy
to see why. They can learn more abilities than any other pet by
picking up all three of the general abilities. They dish out a lot
of damage and are easy to feed. Prowl appeals to night elves who can
shadowmeld along with their pets, and even to other hunters who just
want to feign dead and take a quick bathroom break undetected. And
visually, cats offer more selection than any other family, with
detailed body renderings, dozens of skins, natural and varied
animations, and several models. The only reason not to choose
a cat, apart from RP reasons, is that everyone has one, if
that's the sort of thing that bothers you, and a lot of players,
particularly other hunters, will give you a lot of crap with "oh,
another moonstalker. How nice."
mobs: Wow, there are so many cats
of note I'm hardly sure where to start. Most famous is Broken Tooth,
the badlands cougar with the incredible 1.0 attack speed. Then
there's the Rake, a level 10 Mulgore lion who clocks at 1.2, and
Humar, the unique and beautiful black lion of the Barrens with a 1.3
attack speed. Then there're Echeyakee and Sian-Rotam, who share the
otherwise unique luminescent white lion skin. Araga, a cougar in the
Alterac Mountains, has a unique skin as well. And finally, in
Winterspring you'll find Rak'Shiri, Shy-Rotam and Frostsaber Pride
Watchers, which have a 1.5 attack, unusual skins, and the same
high-shouldered mesh as the night elves' mounts. Shy-Rotam and
Echeyakee are both spawned only by Horde-exclusive quests, so it can
be a bit of a coup for an Alliance player to have one.
Owls, much like bats, are valued for their ability to get in
people's way in PvP. They're also a popular choice because they're
simply quite beautiful, even though there are only two skins.
They're also oddly rare in the gameworld for about thirty levels,
living in Teldrassil at less then ten and then not appearing again
until Felwood in the forties. Thus, an owl is a sign of some
prestige for young Horde hunters, who have to travel to the most
protected place in Azeroth to get one.
mobs: The only unique owl is Olm
the Wise. He's just an ordinary owl after taming, but it can be kind
of entertaining to do so, as he has membership with the Cenarion
Circle. You must be "at war" with them in order to tame him (which
doesn't hurt your rep with them). Name him Olm and parade him in
front of the druids, just for fun.
ability: None to date
No one is quite sure why raptors don't have Dash, but so long as
that's true, they'll remain less popular than cats. Still, if you
want to rip something to shreds, the raptor will serve you well,
with high DPS and the capacity to learn both bite and claw. They
also seem to have a modicum of draconic intelligence, since most of
them wear jewelry. I find this weird, and it's the reason I've never
had one. The only real reason to recommend against them, though, is
that they're a little flimsier than other DPS choices due to a low
mobs: Takk the Leaper is a sleek
raptor in the Barrens with a mostly unique black skin (it's also
found on raptors in WC). He used to be prized for his fast pursuit
speed, but since normalization, he's just another raptor.
ability: None to date
Spiders have only marginally less visual variation than cats, with
"spindly" and "furry" variations and brilliant, colorful skins.
Despite a lack of combat abilities, they can actually be an
unexpectedly strong asset in PvP. First, spire spiderlings have a
1.5 attack, good for casters, but more because the spindly spiders
look so damn real that they do freak out players who
are IRL afraid of spiders, and can throw them off their game. I've
seen it happen. Of course the flip side is, having the thing with
you all the time might freak you out a bit. Not a pet for the
mobs: There are two spiders of
note. The Spire Spiderling, in Blackrock Spire, has a fast 1.5
attack speed, and a startling blue skin found only on one other
spider. The level 27 Naraxis, of Duskwood, is a spindly creature
with a unique red skin.
Bread, cheese, fish
ability: Lightning breath
Windserpents are sort of an odd man out, when it comes to hunter
pets. They have this ranged attack that isn't really ranged, because
they can't stand next to you and spit. They're widely believed to be
"weak" - this is partly true, because most wind serpents seem to
suffer from what Petopia calls "caster stats" - a pet with
above-average Int and Spirit but unusually low Stamina and Strength.
And then there are the sons of Hakkar, which change skins every time
you summon them (although there's a possibility that this behavior
will be changed in an upcoming patch). Altogether they're a
generally weird pet.
But they do have the ability to attack from range, something
available to no other pet. And they're flying snakes. So they're not
a pet without substantial merit. Just do yourself a favor, and
before you tame one, swing by Petopia and make sure it doesn't have
mobs: As I mentioned, keep an eye
out for the Sons of Hakkar found in Zul'Gurub. Every time you summon
them they'll have a different skin. Another nice catch from Wailing
Caverns is the Deviate Dreadfang, with its unique "black" skin (it's
blue, but people call it black, because they're odd, and because
Bliz did it first when they named the skin file).
Bite, claw, dive
Carrion birds are widely and wildly underrated. They have that
vision-obstruction thing going on, which can be good or bad,
depending on your perspective, and the fish in their diet makes
caring for them much easier. More pertinent, they, in my opinion,
take the best advantage of Screech. Screech causes massive aggro in
the mobs that it hits, making it effectively an AoE taunt, and the
carrion bird, with its higher armor, is the most equipped of the
fliers to handle that. With both Claw and Bite, they can put out a
lot of damage, which equals more aggro and faster mob death. The
blue one's not bad-looking either.
mobs: The most underrated pet in
the game in my opinion is the overlooked Spiteflayer. A 1.2
attack speed carrion bird, she can learn claw, bite, dive, and
screech, obstruct the opposition's view, fly harmlessly over lava,
and take a sound beating without even blinking. Yeah, she's kind of
ugly, but even that can be a plus, if you're a hordie who wants to
keep that "savage" flavor.
ability: None to date
The hyena is fairly unremarkable, just an average critter with no
family skill. However, it has both sounds and visuals that might
recommend it to the aesthete who's not after the min/max - there are
white, black, purple and red hyenas, and they have a kind of cool
little laugh. I'd like them more if they had a realistic diet (as
in, eating not just your food but your armor, too, if you want to
feed it to 'em).
mobs: For a unique red skin and a
1.5 attack, try taming a scarlet tracking hound out of Scarlet
Monastary. Or look up Ravager, a level 51 purple hyena, and enjoy a
1.3 attack speed pet.
ability: Furious howl
Saved the best for last. =)
Not really, but wolves are my personal pick. They have as many rich
animations and as complex a model rendering as cats, they're fast
when they need to be, and furious howl is IMO the best ability in
the pack (partly because, right now, it causes a bit of AoE aggro,
although this may be a bug). Also, after cats, they have the widest
variety of <2.0 attack speeds, so at almost any level, you can pick
up a pet that will serve you well in the wild and in the occasional
battleground between quests. And they DANCE! (Although you do need a
shaman friend or an MPQ reader to witness that).
mobs: There are several special
wolves out there. I should touch on Snarler; this snazzy black rare
was the first big-name hunter pet, because he had high innate
magical resistance which he retained once trained. Bliz patched that
out pretty quick, but he's still a good-looking dog (although a
vilebranch raiding wolf looks the same, attacks at 1.7, and isn't on
an insane spawn timer). Ghostpaw alphas are another strong choice,
with a 1.3 attack speed and pre-trained Bite and Furious Howl.
Deathmaw, and his much younger cousins the slavering worgs, at 1.2
attack, are the fastest attacking wolf, and any canine afficianado
will eventually have to tame the bloodaxe worg found in Blackrock
Spire, as it's the only source of Bite 8 and Furious Howl 4.
One other wolf to know about is Lupos, a rare Duskwood spawn. In the
wild, his bite does shadow damage (which ignores damage reduction
from armor). This made him a great PvP pet, unexpectedly deadly to
warriors and pallies used to ignoring our furry/scaly/feathered or
chitinous friends. He was normalized with pet speed, though, and now
deals physical damage after taming.
OKAY, STILL NOT HELPFUL.
Right, then. Your Very First Pet:
Get a bear or a boar.
Seriously, ignore those scorpids and moonstalkers and lions and
raptors and pretty white snow leopards. They're nothing but trouble.
You're level 10. You're buying arrows and getting three silver a
quest turn-in. You don't have cash to be spending on pet food. You
want something that you can feed that spider meat or the sunfish you
just pulled out of the river or the tasty muffins you got as a quest
reward that you'll never ever eat, anything you can find.
Actually if you want the snow leopard grab it now, because you do
not want to be leveling it up later. But for a transitory pet,
the most important thing for a low-level hunter is the convenience
of the omnivorous diet.
AND FOR MY SECOND PET?
Okay, let's talk stable slots.
We only get two. Theoretically, this means three pets - two stabled,
one active, right? Well, theory's nice and all, but that's not how
it works. In actuality, a couple things cut down on our ability to
play World of Pokemon:
In order to learn a new rank of a pet ability, you have to train it
off a pet in the wild. In order to train a pet in the wild, you must
currently have no pet. Ergo, if i rather like my Feral Nightsaber,
and don't want to lose him, but i need to teach him the next rank of
Bite, i have to stick him in the stable and go find a spider or
So, until you've learned every rank of every active ability, you're
effectively limited to two permanent pets, since you need that last
slot free for temporary teaching trains.
Another thing to keep in mind is that leveling pets is a pain in the
ass. Every time you ding you have to wait for your pet to catch up,
and if there's a large level gap, you can spend hours upon hours,
sometimes days at high levels, trying to close it. And pets in the
stable gain no XP, so if you travel with your boar for a week or so,
your owl's going to fall a few levels behind. By the time you've
gotten him caught up, your boar will be lagging. It is
possible to keep two pets at the same level as yourself, but not if
you have any interest in your own speedy advancement and fight
mostly yellow or harder mobs.
--A Quick Note on Pet Leveling--
Pets do not gain XP from quest turn-ins or from exploring new areas.
I don't have any conclusive data on whether or not they gain the
bonus group XP or bonus XP from a rested state. What this means is
don't quest, don't explore, and just to be safe, don't get too
rested if you don't want to outstrip a pet you're trying to level.
HOWEVER if the pet is far behind you, you probably will want to
travel with a group, because a pet at less than about 90% of your
level is nearly useless when soloing, particularly as you get close
Happiness at least is easy to get up quickly, though - just do a
little BG. It seems pets gain 1000 happiness on every rez in the
BGs. Hello loyalty!
--End Quick Note on Pet Leveling--
Alright, Meen, so you're telling me I'm looking at two pets?
I reccomend sticking to just one pet, until at least level 40.
Despite the different categories of pet, all pets are essentially
face-chewing tanks. With Beastmastery spec, in particular, any pet
used properly is a strong PvE ally who will beat on things and get
beat on while you advance through the game. Very fast. Stick to one
pet, and you'll never have to worry about retraining loyalty, having
the wrong kind of food in your pack, or forgetting how you should be
using your pet's special attack.
The exception to this is, if you're a serious PvPer, you're going to
want more than one pet. A pet fully optimized for PvP is not
typically an effective PvE pet. I'll give you an example.
Once upon a time, I decided I wanted in on this PvP scene. I was
level 53 at the time, and had a ghostpaw alpha, my wolf main, and
broken tooth, my trusty pvp cat. Both were level 52, as I'd been
making an effort towards that. I did some quests in Un'Goro with my
wolf, who had my typical PvE generalist spec - health, FH, bite,
dash, some nature and fire resist - and we solo'd a devilsaur, just
for kicks. The 54+ one, not the 53+, I believe.
I came back when my puppy dinged to level up my cat. This is BT with
full PvP spec - max shadow and nature resists, full suite of
damaging abilities and prowl. In other words, a literal paper tiger
and didn't even know growl. This cat is a red beast of DOOM in PvP
specced like that, but the devilsaur would have wiped the crater
with our ass. We stuck to greens and yellows, and I stayed on mostly
autoshot to avoid pulling aggro.
The point of the story is, if you love PvP, and want to do BG from
level 10, by all means, use your second stable slot.
Once you hit the endgame, you're likely to want more pets, however.
Full raids are a different ballgame than normal PvE, and require
more focused specs. For example, the pet I take to Molten Core has
full Fire Resist and an armor boost, neither of which I'd ever spend
the training points on with a generalist pet. That boar's never
seeing the inside of Alterac Valley, that's for sure, but neither
would I take him to Blackwing Lair. I've got my wolf with high
shadow resist for that. If you're doing more than one instance at
once, like trying to learn MC at the same time as Zul'Gurub, and you
do Arathi Basin on weekends, you'll probably find yourself making
use of all three available pet slots.
In the endgame, then, what's a good second pet? Well, a wolf is
perhaps the quintissential raiding pet, and I'm not just saying them
because they're my favorite. Pets, particularly for non-BM hunters,
are pretty outclassed by real boss fights. A good tactic is to have
your wolf sit right by your side and make a macro that ties Furious
Howl to Multishot (both on the same 10 second timer). Particularly
if you're standing near other hunters, over the course of the raid
this can add up to very decent DPS.
Boars are a nice choice as well. They have the fortitude to get in
there and dps for a bit with the proper buffs and resists, but more
uniquely, they're great at squishy rescue. When a mob peels
off from the crowd and attacks your priest, your boar can charge and
root it, giving your priest time to step back and stand safely until
your tank can get there. And they eat bread. This saves you a LOT of
money and means you can toss them into any old fight, because any
time they get unhappy you ask your mage buddy for some food.
Windserpents finish off the best raider troika for me, because of
their flight and ranged attack. They'll never run through the lava
because of poorly programmed pet pathing, and when melee is just too
dangerous, you can still send them in close enough for two lightning
breaths and then recall them to safety until their focus comes back.
Plus THEY EAT BREAD. See above.
AND THATS THAT