Pet families are a system of classification for hunter pets. A pet's family, which is generally based on its species, dictates what food it can eat; what abilities it will have; and what requirements, if any, a hunter needs to meet in order to tame it.
As of Shadowlands, there are 59 pet families.
A small number of families can be used by any hunter specialization, but the hunter must first know how to tame them. Generally this involves reading a tome to learn the required skill.
Mechanicals are a special case among skill families; gnomes, goblins, and mechagnomes, being engineering-oriented races, can tame them by default. Other playable races have the usual requirement of using an item to learn about the family.
Although they are not standalone pet families, some specific species of pets belonging to otherwise normal families have similar requirements:
- Cloud serpents (serpents and, in one case, spirit beasts) can only be tamed by pandaren hunters by default. Other races must first use .
- Gargons (stone hounds) can only be tamed after using .
- Undead beasts (various families) can only be tamed by undead hunters by default. Other races must first use .
- Main article: Pet abilities
Every pet family has two specialization-specific abilities and two family abilities. Some families are allowed additional abilities as well; see other abilities below for a general explanation on these extra abilities, or list of families for all families and what abilities they have.
Each pet family has a specific specialization, which grants a passive ability and an active ability:
- Cunning: and
- Ferocity: Predator's Thirst and
- Tenacity: and
Prior to Battle for Azeroth, pet specialization could be changed after taming, and it had a more profound effect on a pet's role in combat. Cunning pets, for example, did less damage than Ferocity pets but offered a variety of PvP-oriented abilities. Now, each specialization deals the same amount of damage, and the two spec-specific abilities are the only difference.
- Defense: Reduce damage taken by 50% for 12 sec.
- Dodge: Increase dodge change by 30% fo 20 sec.
- Mortal Wounds: Grievously wound the target, reducing the effectiveness of any healing received for 10 sec.
- Slow: Reduce movement speed by 50% for 6 sec.
- Tranquilize and Dispel: Remove 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from an enemy.
- Triggered Defense: When health falls below 40%, reduce damage taken by 60% for 15 sec. Can only occur once every 120 sec.
- Note: The stone hound ability is slightly different in that it offers 40% damage reduction but regenerates 3% max health every second.
Certain pet families have additional abilities beyond the "default" ability types listed above. These include:
- Exotic abilities: All exotic families have a unique ability. Some of these abilities grant combat bonuses such as additional damage or defense, while others grant utility such as water walking.
- Bonus abilities: A very small number of families are given an extra ability—usually a form of . This ability is not dependent on whether the family is exotic.
- Tricks: A few families have an ability that causes them to do a small, non-utility behavior, such as doing a flip or going to sleep.
Each pet family has its own dietary preferences that dictate what it will eat when using . Food items are divided into six types for this purpose: bread, cheese, fish, fruit, fungus, and meat. Certain families, such as gruffhorns and boars, are able to eat a wide variety of food; others, such as rodents, will only eat a single type. Several pet families are exclusive meat-eaters.
Mechanical pets are an exception, as they eat "mechanical bits" instead of food. Mechanical bits are items like bolts, wiring, and other gizmo parts; many of them are created by engineering or sold by engineering vendors.
List of families
|Family name||Exotic||Spec.||Family ability||Additional abilities||Skill requirement||Diet|
|Aqiri||✓||Cunning||Slow||Exotic: Dune Strider||✓||✓|
|Bird of prey||Cunning||Slow||Trick:||✓||✓|
|Blood beast||Tenacity||Slow||Blood-Soaked Tome of Dark Whispers||✓||✓|
|Carapid||✓||Tenacity||Defense||Exotic: Calcified Carapace||✓|
|Carrion bird||Ferocity||Mortal wounds||✓||✓|
|Direhorn||Tenacity||Mortal wounds||Ancient Tome of Dinomancy
(not required for Zandalari trolls)
|Feathermane||Tenacity||Dodge||Bonus:||Tome of the Hybrid Beast||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Mechanical||Cunning||Defense||Mecha-Bond Imprint Matrix
(not required for gnomes, goblins, or mechagnomes)
|Non-standard food type; see diet above.|
|Shale beast||✓||Cunning||Defense||Exotic: Shimmering Shale||✓||✓|
|Stone hound||✓||Tenacity||Triggered defense||Exotic:||✓||✓|