Few things define hunters’ aesthetic more than the loyal beasts that have accompanied them over the years. From their humble beginnings, hunters started with common bears, wolves, and other creatures one would encounter around their homeland. Now they command ferocious beasts whose names were spoken in whispers with fear, creatures said to be more so ghosts than animals, and even former raid bosses that once required forty champions to defeat. Come along with me as I round up the best Hunter pets in WoW.

By the way, if you’re looking for the pets for WoW: Classic check out this article here.

As of Shadowlands, hunters can now store a total of two hundred pets in their stables while having an active roster of five pets to choose from. 

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In the early days, hunter pets varied wildly from one another. Each type of mob had unique abilities and varying stats. However, for better or worse, Blizzard has decided over the years to streamline and equalize the differences between pets. 

With that in mind, there isn’t exactly a definitive “best hunter pet” in World of Warcraft anymore, but we will go over the best pets to tame for each situation. 

Best Hunter Pets in WoW: Shadowlands

Now that we have the different pet types and basics covered, let’s get into the best hunter pets for each situation in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.

Best Hunter Pets for Leveling

Choosing the right type of pet while leveling is possibly the most important choice you’ll make as a hunter, especially early on when hits tend to be lethal. Having the right one will help you stay alive long enough to reach max level so you can start caring about min-maxing your damage.

To that extent, we strongly recommend getting a pet from the Ferocity specialization as the best hunter pet for leveling. The leech effect will out-sustain the innate tankiness of most Tenacity pets, surprisingly.

For Beast Masters, we strongly recommend a pet from the Clefthoof family. Its constant passive effect, Blood of the Rhino, makes it particularly tanky, and it benefits even more from your Mend Pet ability and the leech effect of being a Ferocity pet. The easiest place to obtain one is in Borean Tundra (Northrend), where you can tame any of the rhinos.

WoW Pets Rhino
Image: Blizzard via HGG

For non-Beast Masters, we recommend picking up either a Gorilla, Scalehide, or Courser pet, as each one has a strong defensive ability that allows you to either reduce damage or dodge incoming attacks. Gorillas can easily be picked up either in Stranglethorn Vale (Eastern Kingdoms) or Zuldazar (Zandalar). Scalehides can easily be obtained in the form of a kodo from Mulgore (Kalimdor). As for Coursers, any horse will suffice, but we recommend grabbing a Zhevra from the Barrens (Kalimdor).

WoW Pets Scalehide
Image: Blizzard via HGG

Best Hunter Pets for PvE Content (Raiding, Dungeons)

As all pets’ damage has been equalized, you’re going to be more interested in their utility effects. A handful of pets, namely from the Cat and Spirit Beast family, can get a stronger opening strike, but it typically doesn’t make a huge difference. 

To that extent, we recommend grabbing a pet from the Tenacity specialization as the best hunter pet for PvE. Having a higher health pool for both you and the pet makes staying alive to deal damage a bit easier. Additionally, Survival of the Fittest serves as a great emergency defensive in the event of a hard-hitting boss ability, and there are plenty of those at end game content.

For Beast Masters, we recommend picking up either a Spirit Beast for the extra heal or a Stone Hound for the instant pet resurrection. Having an additional heal is pretty self-explanatory for its value, while the instant pet resurrection ensures you don’t have to waste precious time reviving your pet instead of DPSing.

WoW Pets Spirit Beasts
Image: Blizzard via HGG

For non-Beast Masters, any pet from the Tenacity specialization will suffice. If you want to ease managing your pet’s health, we recommend picking up one with either the Defense or Triggered Defense ability, such as a Bear. You can easily find a Bear in any forest zones, like Elwynn Forest (Eastern Kingdoms) or Silverpine Forest (Eastern Kingdoms).

WoW Pets Bear
Image: Blizzard via HGG

Best Hunter Pets for PvP Content (Battlegrounds, Arenas) 

For PvP content, we strongly recommend grabbing a pet from the Cunning specialization as the best hunter pet for PvP. The extra movement speed is key for kiting or chasing down enemies. Additionally, having immobility cleanse from Master’s Call is invaluable for escaping from CC. 

For Beast Masters, you have access to the Aqiri family, allowing you access to a slow as well as a speed boost to your pet for keeping up with targets, especially pesky kiters such as rogues or druids. You can easily obtain one from Silithus (Kalimdor).

WoW Pets Aqiri
Image: Blizzard via HGG

As for non-Beast Masters (and Beast Masters who prefer something besides a slow), we strongly recommend picking up a pet from a family with access to Mortal Wounds, as reducing healing effectiveness is critical in most PvP situations. To that extent, we recommend grabbing a Raptor, Hyena, or Rodent pet. Raptors and Hyenas can easily be found in the Barrens (Kalimdor). As for Rodents, we recommend grabbing a porcupine from the Jade Forest (Pandaria).

WoW Pets Raptor
Image: Blizzard via HGG

Best Hunter Pets for Showing Off

Finally, we’re at the most important part — choosing the best looking hunter pet! No hunter’s transmog is complete with the perfect companion (or two for Beast Masters). A majority of old content bosses are now tamable and are naturally popular picks for their unique models. Many rare mobs are also popular picks, particularly those of the Spirit Beast family for their glow. 

Good luck obtaining some of them though, besides having incredibly long spawn timers, they’re often camped by other hunters looking to get a hold of them as well.

We’ll go over a quick list of pets that we think look particularly good and leave the rest up to you!

  • Chrominius (Core Hound): One of the later bosses of Blackwing Lair (Classic). Incredibly easy to solo your way to him. Just be sure not to kill him accidentally!
  • Horridon (Direhorn): The second boss of Throne of Thunder (Mists of Pandaria). We recommend talking to Lorewalker Han above Mogu’shan Palace to do the LFR version of the raid.
  • Cloud Serpents (Serpents): The cloud serpents of Pandaria are a very popular tame thanks to their wide variety of colors and fairly well-designed model.
  • Lava Turtle (Turtles): Pop into the Firelands raid (Cataclysm) and tame one of the lava turtles hanging out in a nearby lava pool for a rather striking model.
  • Son of Xolotal (Wolves): Blue wolves that share a model with the blue spirit beast (minus the lightning effect). Can be found near a cave just east of Warport Rastari in Zuldazar (Zandalar).
  • Loque’nahak (Spirit Beast): The blue-spotted while cheetah of Sholazar Basin (Northrend). With multiple spawn points all over the zone and an 8-10 hour spawn timer, be prepared to camp for a while for this one. It’s also a kill target for those going after the rare achievement.

WoW Hunter Pets 101

Now that we’ve covered the best WoW Hunter pets, let’s check out some basic information about hunter pets and how they work. The information below will help you optimally level up your pet and make the most of them in battle.

Standard Abilities

All hunter pets come with three standard abilities. You can view your spellbook for all of your pet’s abilities only while it’s summoned and by your side

World of Warcraft Pet Spellbook
Image: Blizzard via HGG
  1. Growl: Taunts and boosts aggro generation for 3 seconds against your current target.
  2. Dash: Boosts its own movement speed by 80% for 10 seconds.
  3. Bite/Claw/Smack: Performs an enhanced attack, consuming your pet’s focus. Double the damage and focus cost if your pet’s focus is above 50.

Specializations

Additionally, depending on their family, all hunter pets fall into one of three different specializations: 

  1. Cunning: You and your pet have 8% additional move speed at all times. Your pet also has access to Master’s Call, cleansing itself and a friendly target of all movement impairing effects. Incredibly useful for kiting enemies and dealing with immobilization effects in PvP.
  2. Ferocity: You and your pet have 10% leech on all attacks. You also have access to Primal Rage, which is an alternative to Heroism/Bloodlust from shamans. Useful from when your party lacks a mage or shaman. While you’re out in the world, these are pretty good for sustaining through mobs. A side note to Marksmanship hunters, even if you do not use pets typically due to your Lone Wolf passive, we strongly recommend having a Ferocity pet on standby if your party needs a Heroism/Bloodlust.
  3. Tenacity: You and your pet have 5% additional max health. Additionally, you have access to Survival of the Fittest, reducing all damage taken by you and your pet by 20% for 6 seconds. Recommended for when you need your pet to tank a hard-hitting mob.
Best Hunter Pets in WoW Shadowlands
Image: Blizzard via HGG

Families

Furthermore, all pets are categorized into a family type, granting them one of six abilities:

  1. Defense: Reduces damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds.
  2. Dodge: Increases dodge chance by 30% for 20 seconds.
  3. Mortal Wounds: Reduces the effectiveness of all healing on a target for 10 seconds.
  4. Pet Cure/Dispel: Cleanses one disease, magic, and poison effect from the pet.
  5. Slow: Reduces the movement speed of a target by 50% for 6 seconds.
  6. Triggered Defense: Upon falling below 40% health, reduces damage taken by 60% for 15 seconds. Can happen once every 120 seconds.

Exotics

For Beast Master hunters specifically, you can tame a few additional pet families that are considered exotic. These exotic pets have an additional skill that can be utilized:

  1. Aqiri – Dune Strider: Increases your pet’s movement speed by 30%.
  2. Carapid – Calcified Carapace: Reduces damage taken by your pet based on its total health.
  3. Chimaera – Froststorm Breath: Your pet channels a cone attack, inflicting damage to all targets within 12 yards every 2 seconds for 8 seconds. Requires pet focus to cast.
  4. Clefthoof – Blood of the Rhino: Passive ability that gives the pet 10% additional armor and increases the effectiveness of heals received by 20%.
  5. Core Hound – Molten Hide: When the pet is struck by a melee attack, inflicts fire damage to all melee attackers for 10 seconds. It can trigger once every 60 seconds.
  6. Devilsaur – Feast: Your pet consumes a nearby humanoid or beast corpse, healing it for 20% of its health and restoring 20 focus over 6 seconds.
  7. Shale Beast – Shimmering Shale: Passive ability that reduces magic damage taken by your pet based on its total health.
  8. Spirit Beast – Spirit Mend: Heals a friendly target for a burst instantly followed by some additional healing over 10 seconds. Scales with your ranged attack power.
  9. Stone Hound – Eternal Guardian: Once every 8 minutes, you can instantly revive your pet to full health.
  10. Water Strider – Surface Trot: You and your pet can walk on water. Any damage will cancel this effect, but it is an instant cast with no cooldown, so just pop it again.
  11. Worm – Burrow Attack: Your pet burrows into the ground and shakes the earth above it, dealing nature damage over 8 seconds to any enemy within the area. Scales with your ranged attack power.

Uniques

Once more (we swear this is the last one), some pet families have an additional set of abilities.

  1. Cat – Prowl: Your pet enters stealth, slowing its move speed by 50% but gives its first attack 20% extra damage.
  2. Feathermane – Updraft: Slow the fall speed of yourself and your pet for 30 seconds.
  3. Spirit Beast – Prowl: Your pet enters stealth, slowing its move speed by 50% but gives its first attack 20% extra damage.

WoW Hunter Pets Table

To hopefully make it a bit easier to figure out what pet family you should go for, we’ve condensed the information into a table below. Pet families in bold are considered exotic (Beast Master only). Pet families with a star next to their name require being a specific race or picking up a book allowing any race to tame them or specific variants within the family (we’ll explain where to get the book for those families below the table).

CunningFerocityTenacity
DefenseBoar
Mechanical*
Shale Beast
Core Hound
Scalehide
Beetle
Carapid
Turtle
DodgeFox
Monkey
Serpent*
Cat
Courser
Wind Serpent
Dragonhawk
Feathermane*
Toad
Mortal WoundsHyenaCarrion BirdDirehorn*
Pet Cure/DispelMoth
Sporebat
Water Strider
Bat
Ray
Crane
Spirit Beast
Stag
SlowAqiri
Basilisk
Bird of Prey
Hound
Warp Stalker
Chimaera
Crocolisk
Spider
Tallstrider
Wolf
Blood Beast*
Crab
Mammoth
Worm
Triggered DefenseCamel
Gruffhorn
Pterrordax
Clefthoof
Gorilla
Bear
Oxen
Stonehound*

Where to get the book for each family:

1. Cloud Serpents (Serpent Family): Requires the item How to School Your Serpent, obtained from hitting Exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpent faction in Pandaria. It applies to your entire account, so as long as you have a character of any class exalted with the faction, you can buy it for 40 gold from San Redscale in the Jade Forest and learn it.

2. Undead Variants: You can automatically tame Undead variants of any pet family if you’re a member of the Undead race. Otherwise, you have to obtain the item Simple Tome of Bone-Binding. The item applies to your entire account and is a random rare drop of any mob in Maldraxxus and bosses in the Plaguefall dungeon.

3. Mechanical: You can tame Mechanical pets automatically if you’re a member of the Gnome, Mechagnome, or Goblin race. Otherwise, you have to obtain the item Mecha-Bond Imprint Matrix from someone with Legion Engineering (rank 20). This one is NOT account-wide and is character-specific.

4. Gargon (Stone Hound Family): Requires the item Gargon Training Manual, obtained as a drop from the rare mob Huntmaster Petrus in Revendreth. It applies to your entire account but can only be looted and learned as a hunter (regardless of spec).

5. Direhorns: If you’re a member of the Zandalari Troll race, you automatically can tame Direhorns. Otherwise, you require the item Ancient Tome of Dinomancy. It is a rare drop from Zandalari Dinomancers on the Isle of Giants (Pandaria). This one is NOT account-wide and is character-specific.

6. Feathermanes: Requires the item Tome of the Hybrid Beast, obtained by completing the Hunter class Order Campaign in Legion. It’s sold by Pan the Kind Hand at the Trueshot Lodge for 1000 order resources. It applies to your entire account and can only be used by hunters.

7. Blood Beasts: Requires the item Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers, obtained from killing the boss Zul in Uldir (BfA content) on normal or higher difficulty. It applies to your entire account and can only be used by hunters.

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And that’s it for our take on hunter pets in Shadowlands! Got a pet you’re particularly proud of? Leave it down in the comments below, and stay tuned for more articles here at High Ground Gaming.