hunter pets  

Needs updating. This page was never truly finalized anyway.

related topics: Beast Mastery, pet families, hunter pet talent trees, hunter pet abilities

Hunters are a ranged combat class, which makes them unique by itself, but their most noteworthy characteristic is their animal companion by their side. Being attuned to nature, the hunter has the ability to "tame" a beast to join him in his travels. In addition to being an extra source of damage, the pet also serves as protection for the hunter. The single most important thing the pet does is keep the hunter's opponents away from him so he can continue to shoot at it.

A hunter has the ability to tame most Beasts, within reason. No dragons or aquatic creatures. A good rule of thumb is anything smaller than a bear can be tamed. With the eponymous 51-point talent in the Beast Mastery tree, even "exotic" pets such as devilsaurs and chimeras become available.

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Obtaining a Pet

Pets only become available to a hunter at level 10. At that point, their local class trainer will send them on three missions to tame nearby creatures with an item. After bringing each of these creatures back to the trainer, the hunter will know how to tame a beast. Note that there is another quest that follows this one that will send the hunter to their capital to learn how to feed and revive their pets, both of which are essential skills to learn.

Once the hunter has this skill, they can go into the wild, locate a beast that is not higher in level than they are, and attempt to tame them. The beast will fight back against the hunter for the length of the taming. During this time, the hunter cannot move or take any other actions. (However, they can do things beforehand like activate Aspect of the Monkey or put down a Freezing Trap.) If the hunter survives the taming, the beast will join them, and become their pet.

Hunters can have only one active pet at a time. If you wish to obtain a new pet, or switch pets, you will need to visit a Stable Master.

Your New Pet

The first important thing to notice about the pet is that there is a health bar for it beneath the hunter's, and a second bar below that that is orange. This bar is for the pet's focus, which is what the pet will eventually use to activate abilities. With the exception of the family ability for that pet, you will need to train the other skills using the pet's talent points.

Next to the health and focus bars is an icon that is red in color. This means your pet is hungry! If you offer your pet a piece of food that it will eat, it will start to gain happiness, which increases its effectiveness.

The second part of the screen to notice is the action bar above your's. This pet action bar contains 3 commands at the left end, Attack, Follow, and Stay, as well as three attack modes on the right, Aggressive, Defensive, and Passive. See Controlling Your Pet for a further explanation of these ideas.

Controlling Your Pet

Pets can be sent to attack a target by clicking on "Attack" on the pet action bar. Most hunters bind this ability to a convenient key, like the tilde. The pet will also attack things on its own, depending on which mode you put your pet in. On defensive, your pet will fight back against anything that harms either it or you. If the pet is set to aggressive, it will simply lash out against any hostile targets that it draws near. A passive pet will take blows without retaliating, waiting for your command.

Once a pet is attacking, pressing the follow button will tell it to return to your side. Follow is also used to undo the command Stay. A pet that is told to stay will remain exactly where it is. If it told to attack, it will move into range to attack the target, and then not leave that location. Since pets will often follow the hunter using strange paths, the stay command is often useful for keeping the pet where you want it, and moving it later with the Eyes of the Beast ability.

The central four slots of the pet action bar are for pet abilities. It is possible to make the pet automatically use these abilities whenever possible by right-clicking them on the bar. This is known as autocast.

Controlling a pet properly is very important for playing in a group. While the hunter will normally set their pet to defensive while soloing, the pet should be left on passive during a group and commanded manually. Growl should also be disabled.

  • Tame Beast - allows the hunter to attempt to win over the beast and have it become a new pet. Only works if you have no other current pet, and take no actions during the taming period.
  • Feed Pet - offers the pet a piece of food you select, to try to maintain its happiness.
  • Beast Lore - provides information about a particular beast, including whether or not it is tameable, and what abilities it has.
  • Call Pet - summons your current pet when it is not active.
  • Revive Pet - resurrects your pet if it dies in combat. A revived pet will have lost a significant amount of its happiness.
  • Kill Command - commands your pet to attack an extra time against its target. Can only be used after you crit.
  • Beast Mastery (talented) abilities
    • Master's Call - instructs the pet to run to a target and free it from crowd controlling afflictions.
    • Intimidation - commands the pet to stun the target for 3 seconds.
    • Bestial Wrath - sends the pet into a rage, making it deal more damage and shrug off detrimental effects like fear or polymotph.

Pet Attributes

Focus is the pet's resource for using abilities. It behaves similiar to a rogue's Energy meter. See Hunter Pet Focus for more details.

Happiness determines the pet's damage output. When a pet is happy, it will deal more damage than when it is content or unhappy. Feeding a pet will increase the happiness, as well as a few pet talents. Though it is not very visible to the player, Happiness is out of a meter of 1050 points total, with each section -- happy, content, and unhappy -- representing one third of that amount, or 350 points.

The Pet attribute screen is part of your character window. While you have a pet, look for the tab at the bottom for "pet". You will get a screen very similiar to your character screen, but concerning your pet's statistics instead. You can find some important information here, like the pet's diet.

Level gain/experience can be determined on the pet attribute screen. Like your character, hunter pets gain experience and levels.[1] Pet experience gains come strictly from fighting enemies, and not from quests or discovery. Pets will never gain experience if they are at your level, so that you can never have a pet above your level.

Diet refers to which kinds of foods the pet can be fed. Some pet families will eat almost any kind of food, but others are more finicky, perhaps only eating meat. You can see your pet's diet on the pet attribute screen, although it is always the same for members of a particular pet family.

Family refers to the generic class of beast that your pet belongs to. For example, all cats are part of the same family, regardless of what kind of cat they are. Family also determines the talent tree your pet has, which food types it will eat, which unique ability it possesses, and has a slight affect on the amount of health, armor, and damage output the pet has.

Choosing a Pet

There are several factors for choosing a particular pet. The primary one should be whether or not you like the animal. There are reasons to prefer one pet over another for accomplishing a particular task, however. Choosing a pet essentially comes down to two decisions:

  1. Which pet family do I want my pet from?
  2. Which specific beast from that family do I like the look of most?

All members of a particular family are identical in all ways except appearance, regardless of where they come from. (Some pets may start at a slightly lower level, but in the long run this shouldn't matter.) As a result, most of the decision-making process concerns which family you take your pet from. Once you have decided that, then one needs only to consider which beast they like the most.

Using Your Pet

Solo usage

When fighting on your own, your pet is your tank, and keeps enemies from reaching you. Most importantly, this lets you keep range to shoot them. However, pets tend not to hold aggro very well over the hunter[2], so a few considerations need to be made. The pet should have Growl and Dash/Dive on autocast. Try to avoid using many abilities against your opponent, especially early in the battle, or you will still probably rip aggro.

A Tenacity pet is probably most useful for soloing, although its damage output is lower and you may want a ferocity pet instead.


Pets are generally not incredibly useful for damage or tanking during PvP. Instead, they need to be used primarily as a tool. One thing pets are very good at doing during PvP is disrupting spellcasting. Send them after casters to keep them busy. Select family abilities has a particular skill that is beneficial to the particular style of PvP you are participating in. For example, scorpids were frequently used to poison enemies so that cleanse effects would be less likely to remove stings.

A Cunning pet should be the most useful for soloing, although this is highly debatable.

Groups and raids

During groups and raids, the pet is generally relegated to the role of "killable DoT." The single most useful feature of a pet during grouping is damage output, and so the pet's focus should be directed toward killing the opposition. It is possible that some utility skills may be helpful during groups, but during raids in particular the pet will be focused on keeping itself alive in order to continue to DPS.

A Ferocity pet is the most useful for raids, and typically in groups as well.

Miscellaneous Questions

Beasts only

Hunters are a class at tune with nature, and can meld well with simple animals. Dragonkin, for example, are considered too intelligent to be tamed as pets and do not always live in harmony with nature.

No Mounts

Hunters cannot tame beasts as riding mounts because their specialty is in combat, and their ability to train and handle beasts is one of preparing them for battle, not as a beast of burden.

Pet Size

Pets of a certain level are a certain size. When a beast is tamed, it will shrink to the appropriate level, and gradually grow as it levels. If beasts stayed the size they were when tamed, some hunters would tame the largest creature they could find just to serve as a nuisance. (In PvP, there could be real benefits to doing this.)[3] In the original beta, experience with the oversized spider Lady Sathrah blocking access to mailboxes was a driving cause for the original pet shrinkage.

Renaming Pets

Pets start off named after their family. You may rename your pet one time, and one time only, by right-clicking its character portait and choosing rename. Pet names are still held to many of the same standards as character names, but there is no stringent filtering process for names.

Changing Pets

Accessing a different pet requires the use of a stable master. If you wish to add a new pet to your stables, and do not have room, you will need to abandon a pet by right-clicking your pet portrait and choosing Abandon. This will cause that pet to leave you forever.

About Feed Pet

Feed Pet puts a buff on your pet that causes it to gain happiness. Additional feeding will not enhance this rate, and the effect lasts for about 20 seconds. Only feed your pet once. If your pet takes damage or enters combat, the effect will end immediately. The amount of happiness your pet gains from the food is determined by the level of the food. Any food that is less than 20 levels below the pet will generate 35 happiness per tick. Lesser foods will raise it by 17, 8, or not at all. Since Feed Pet ticks 10 times, a proper piece of food should raise a pet's happiness by 350, which is exactly the amount it needs to gain a happiness level. (This is also roughly the amount that a pet loses from dying.)

Pet Talent Points

Starting at level 20, pets will gain a talent point every 4 levels. This means pets will have a maximum of 16 talent points at level 80, plus an extra 5 with the Beast Mastery talent. See Hunter Pet Talent Trees for more details.

Threat Generation

Although damage generates threat, and some Tenacity skills also deal additional threat, primarily a pet relies on Growl to create aggro. Under current mechanics, growl has a certain amount it generates automatically, plus a portion of additional threat based on the hunter's attack power past a certain point.[1]

Caster Pets

There are some pets that, in the wild, have a mana bar. When tamed, their stats are generally inferior to that of other beasts, however they have increased intelligence and spell damage, which *may* lead to additional ability damage. Caster pets have been found primarily among Dragonhawks and Wind Serpents.[4]

Pet Scaling

Quoted from Petopia: ''Pets get about 30% of the hunter's stamina added to their stamina. Pets get about 35% of the hunter's armor added to their armor. Pets get about 22% of the hunter's ranged attack power added to their melee attack power. Pets get about 12.5% of the hunter's ranged attack power added to their spell damage. Pets get about 40% of the hunter's resistances added to their own resistances.''

Other Pet Resources

Petopia is the pre-eminent site for hunter pets. Another popular hunter site, TKA something, also has extensive information about hunter pets. Wowhead also has extensive information about pet families, and a Pet Calculator for training points. WoW Hunter Pets is another hunter pet resource with pet talent calculators and detailed listings on all wow hunter pets.

Lich King Changes

Hunter pets changed considerably with the advent of Wrath of the Lich King. Prior to the expansion, pets were considerably different:

  • Happiness helped pets gain loyalty. This loyalty determined how quickly the pet got hungry, and how many training points it had.
  • Abilities were learned from training them. In order to be able to train your pet with an ability, you first had to tame a beast that had the ability natively. Beast Training was further restricted by the number of training points your pet acquired. This was replaced with the hunter pet talent trees system.
  • Pets that were unhappy and at loyalty level 1 could abandon the hunter. Loyalty ranged up to level 6.
  • Newly-tamed pets are now automatically no more than 5 levels beneath the hunter. Previously they remained their level in the wild, and had to gain all the levels in-between.
  • Only some of the pet families had unique abilities. About half did not.
  • Differences in pet families were mostly limited to different bonus coefficients for armor, health and DPS. These have all been normalized to the pet's talent tree now.
  • Hunters only had 2 stable slots before Lich King. Including the current pet, this meant they could have 3 pets. Two extra stable slots were added for WotLK.

Older Pet Changes

  • Many pets attacked or chased targets with elevated speeds. Mobs such as Broken Tooth and Frostwolf were great favorites once upon a time, before pet attack speed and pet run speed were both normalized.
  • Some pets had a few other unique qualities, such as elevated resistances. (Ex: Snarler) One of the most famous of these was the wolf Lupos, who dealt slightly less damage than other wolves, but generated shadow damage instead of physical damage, meaning his attacks ignored armor.
  • Various pet families have had to be modified due to exploits discovered from them. Lightning Breath did not originally scale correctly with the hunter's attack power, and had to be nerfed. Similiarly, Scorpid Poison dealt damage based on the pet's damage capabilities when the DoT was first applied, and often led to some ridiculous amounts of poison damage before it was nerfed.
  • Serpent pets were once heavily stamped out by Blizzard. By accident, some of the serpent mobs in Zul'Farrak were tameable. Blizzard removed the ability to feed these pets in response so that they would gradually fade away as the pet abandoned the hunter. Over a year later, the developers finally relented and made all serpents tameable.
  • Many standard abilities have been added or modified since the game's inception. Avoidance and Cobra Reflexes were the most recent additions before Lich King. Growl originally required training points, which meant leveling a new pet was often very frustrating until they reached loyalty level 1 and had points to train the skill. Growl was later made free.

  1. ^ Warlock pets are always the level of the master.
  2. ^ This is a statement made based on pre-Lich King era pets. Developers have stated they will look at threat generation, and so this might prove false.
  3. ^ Blizzard is currently playing with the implementation of Devilsaurs as exotic pets for the talent Beast Mastery. They are larger than other pets currently, but may need to be shrunk.
  4. ^ The game treats other pets as warriors, but caster pets as paladins. This becomes visible when paladins are casting class-wide blessings.

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This page last modified 2009-06-16 13:56:27.