This article will cover all things pet-related for tanking in Cataclysm.  Please refer to the main guides page for all other general tanking articles.

Please keep in mind, raid tanking IS different than instance tanking.  This is a primer for all tanking endeavors, but specifically for instances.  Certain exceptions may apply for raid tanking and will be covered in future articles.

And for any pet tanking questions that aren’t answered in articles or comments, feel free to email me at  Keep them tank-related, however.  For anything else I’ll just refer you to one of Frostheim’s articles.

Pet Choice

In nearly every circumstance, you will want to use a turtle (or beetle).  There are a few exceptions, however, where you will want a bear.  In the right situation a bear’s 10% physical damage reduction will have more benefit to the entire group or raid.  That said, a turtle will always take less damage than a bear, so unless the group is taking large amounts of physical damage, stick with a turtle.  But if there’s a lot of physical damage, be a pal to your healer and help him out with a bear.

A beetle is identical to a turtle.  I have a turtle tamed, and am not a huge fan of beetle skins, so you won’t see me refer to them much.  Either works fine though.

Pet Spec

There isn’t going to be a single pet spec that is the best.  For the most part, you’ll have 13-14 points that you will always want, then the rest will be divided into threat generation talents or survivability talents based on need.  The builds below represent the extremes of those two needs.  But any of the talents listed below can be mixed and matched to form hybrid pet specs to fit your particular needs.

Recommended Threat Build:

Recommended Survivability Build:

Our pets already ignore a lot of spell damage, so the improved resistance talent is nearly worthless.  Intervene can be useful, but is too situational to recommend for any kind of general use.

Last Stand is a normally marginal talent that becomes unbelievably awesome for fights where we can pinpoint 1-2 large damage spikes on the tank.  I don’t recommend frequent use of it over other talents, but it does have its uses.  As bosses begin to do more damage in content, and our stamina levels rise steadily, Silverback and Last Stand will likely gain usefulness.  For now, the threat build is probably a safer default.

Taunt is on a shorter cooldown than it was in Wrath (42 seconds), so it’s no longer just an “Oh Pants!” button and should be used frequently to grab mobs back from overeager dps.

And it should be noted that a single point in Wild Hunt may actually be better than two points in Spiked Collar in the survivability build, but will depend on pet focus regen factors at 85 that I currently don’t have enough data on.  If you notice your pet topping out on focus, feel free to try it out.

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  1. Bu says:

    Thanks a lot for a long-waiting specs and thanks a lot for all you done for us, hunters.

  2. Bu says:

    And a question…
    Guard dog —> Taunt + Spiked Collar is a better choice than spend points in Great Resistance for Survivability Build?

    • Arthemystia says:

      The Resistance points are worthless enough to remain un-recommended even for survivability. Our pets have higher resistances than players already, and a lot of magic damage comes from AoE attacks that pets ignore 90% of. The build wasn’t to represent all the survivability talents, just the ones that are worth having. Even something like Last Stand is situational enough that I’d only recommend it when you know you have a use for it.

      Because even when we are more worried about surviving than threat, we’re always aware of both needs, and it’s never worth losing Taunt because of its potential worth in any situation.

  3. Derpitude says:

    First off id like to say thanks to Frost and everybody else that makes it happen here @ WHU… Secondly… I imagine Mastery becomes very valuable for threat generation… thoughts?

    • Arthemystia says:

      Yes, mastery is great for tanking. A gear/consumables/enchants/gems guide is next on the tanking docket which includes some general rules on stats.

  4. GTyoungblood says:

    Was wondering what you thought about Spirit Beasts. For survivability anyway. The healing ability they have is awesome. Although, it has been a few weeks since I’ve used mine.

    I have set up a couple of macros to take advantage of healing. The first macro targets and heals me, while the second one targets the pet and tells it to heal itself, followed by a Mend Pet. That has the effect of mitigating the Mend Pet threat as well, as the pets own healing threat counters it.

    I don’t know what logic is used for the pet deciding when or whom to heal, but I have seen the pet heal itself and heal me at random times, without being told to.

    It just has basic Ferocity threat, so a lot of misdirected multi shots would be needed for larger groups.

    (writing this from my iPhone, please pardon my typos)

    • Arthemystia says:

      Spirit Beasts are cool for such uses, but they remain a dps pet. They simply don’t have the talents in their tree that tenacity pets do in order to tank instances. Specifically, crit immunity and 40% extra healing taken. That said, there’s likely uses for Spirit Beasts, just not as the optimal tank pets.

  5. Arcazua says:

    *IS* a turtle necessarily better than a bear? Is it better to have 10% reduction constantly or 50% for 1/5 of the time? I can see where, during an instance and there’s multiple foes initially, the turtle is more useful. However, unless we’re talking about a spike-DPS battle, one-on-one I’d much rather have a sustained reduction.

    • Arthemystia says:

      The total damage taken will be less for a turtle, which translates into less heals needed, so yes it’s going to be the better choice, especially in the new mana-conscious world of progression healing.

      It can be tempting to see the sustained reduction as better overall, and it IS unreservedly better when it also helps mitigate group-wide physical damage. But I’m always excited to pop Shell Shield when my healer falls behind a bit, knowing that it’s a great way to catch up, rather than not having any options if I see the battle going slowly sour.

      Because, as most fights go, either you have the heals/dps/tanking or you don’t. But a healer will fall behind during intense movement phases or when people are standing in the fire/void zone/etc. A 50% reduction on a short cooldown is a great way to have your healer’s back, so to speak, especially when there’s a lot of other classes capable of bringing the physical dmg. reduction.

      In short: have both, monitor dmg. amounts for you and your group, choose accordingly.

    • Arthemystia says:

      It should also be noted that after talents, the uptime for Shell Shield is 12/42, or 28.5% uptime, not 1/5 as you mentioned. It’s also a reduction to all damage, not just physical dmg., which makes the physical debuff much less useful in many fights.

  6. Tallind says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful guides Arthemystia!!! This may not be the best place for this post, if that is the case then I apologize in advance.

    So I’m still in need of my 2 pc T5 i never got the shoulders or gloves back in BC, and I can never find a group willing to help me out. So that leaves me with one option, to solo the fights. Which sounds like a lot of fun. I’m currently affected by poor internets that make the arcane orbs from Void Reaver really really hard to run away from. But that doesn’t mean that when I get back home that I can’t still get my stuff. I know VR (or Loot Reaver as I will call him again one day) is a very easy solo, very easy T5 shoulders. I’ve seen it done.
    Now I’m looking at Leotheras the Blind. He drops the gloves. I’m looking at using improved resistance for attempting this guy. The stacking debuff is what i’m worried about when he’s in his demon form. Would the imp resistance be worth it? I may duo this with a healer first to see where I stand before spending hours upon hours of wiping and trying out different gear and specs and whatnot. I’m looking for opinions on this one. I’m also wondering if there is anyone out there that has accomplished this feat.

    • Arthemystia says:

      As it pertains to the guides, a lot of talents in both our and our pet’s spec can have a particular use in a particular fight that makes them worth using. I can only recommend talents that will have general use. So the resistance points may be worth it for that fight, but I can’t be sure. Pet respecs are free though, so the best way is just to get in there and start wiping….er, I mean trying.

  7. Joolsy says:

    Nice one Frost. I took my 1st foray into Pet Tanking the other day using my Madexx Armoured Scorpion (although Terrorpene would have been a better choice it seems?) to Pet Tank the bosses @ the Crucible of Carnage. I got to help some guildies get their achievement and had awesome fun in the process.

    Happy Hunting in 2011 all.

  8. Tazzad says:

    Pet tanking now in Cata is actually pretty usefull. Our tank in Shadowfang Keep today got hit like a truck from the last boss. So i pulled out my Beetle and said “Give my trusty companion a shot at this boss” cuz its alot easier to heal a hunter pet than a tank.

    It was actually easier than i thought. I didnt tank the whole fight, I switched with the DK (Tank) a couple of times, but we managed to down him pretty easy while using my pet as a second tank.

    So yea, taniking now is awesome compared to what it was! :D

  9. Joolsy says:

    ^^ Oops, I do apologise Arthemystia. I should really note the author of the topic before I thank them huh?

  10. SheWolf says:

    Any way we could update the talent tree since the change?

    • Arthemystia says:

      The patch changes don’t do anything to our tanking tree. Mostly we’re just getting a boost to Kill Command, which is awesome tanking news.

      • SheWolf says:

        Yeah, sorry about that. I just hope they don’t nerf the pet talents like they are doing with the SV shots this next patch. MM is getting a boost.

  11. stick804 says:

    “And it should be noted that a single point in Wild Hunt may actually be better than two points in Spiked Collar in the survivability build, but will depend on pet focus regen factors at 85 that I currently don’t have enough data on.  If you notice your pet topping out on focus, feel free to try it out.”

    I keep looking at the survivability spec that is pictured above and I’m not sure I understand that comment. Could you pls explain? Btw, your pet tanking guides are very helpful! I like the video you posted on tanking HSFK. Good job!

  12. Dreaux says:

    Working on an Argaloth pet tanking guides since his biggest damage to a party is AoE? I’m just now dipping my toes into pet tanking more challenging content and I’d love to successfully take on Argaloth with my guild as a means of getting them more on board to supporting my development as a pet-tanker.

  13. Terawyn says:

    Question for you-

    Why wouldn’t charge be a good option for tanking in general? The stun seems like it would be a slight damage reduction, plus the aggro from getting there before any of the dps would be nice too.

  14. Bitty says:

    I’m confused. Your recommended Threat Build uses 21 points and my lvl 85 pets only have 17 points… do i have to choose talents within your recommended build?

    • kelashan says:

      Bitty, it sounds to me like you’re using a non-beastmaster spec. In general, for MM and SV hunters, pets are mostly a minor damage boost, or some extra utility or a distraction while you blow stuff up. In order to actually have a pet be capable of both generating sufficient threat and surviving long enough to be practical for actual tanking, you HAVE to go beastmaster. A beastmaster spec will give you the extra pet talent points you’re missing.

      • HunnyHunter says:

        Just tamed Terrorpene… Now for the speccing and mass solo’ing… can’t wait… Tamed 11pm Australian time, Khazgoroth Server

  15. Rddragon says:

    Just curious…in this article you say Greater Resistance is almost worthless…but in the extremesoloing guide, it’s recommended. Why?

    • Pathemeous says:

      Because when soloing, you will get very few healing done (only your own), meaning any extra damage reduction becomes very good. Plus, when tanking, you have to worry about threath managment, so you have to take DPS talents like Spiked Collar too. Because you can misdirect to your pet as much as you want, you don’t have to worry about these talents and can use those extra points for Greater Resistance.

  16. crazen says:

    I would love to see a spec tree style for a dungeon or pvp cat

  17. Boclava says:

    What about Rhinos? I use one and I never have a problem, what do you think? Bad? Good? Ok, but not recommended?

    • Arthemystia says:

      Ok, but not recommended. Most things that can be tanked with a turtle/beetle can be tanked with any tenacity pet, but only those two are optimized for damage reduction.

      I’ve never been one to cling to a pet for sentimental or aesthetic value when I can improve something by switching. But play preferences vary, and if you’re accomplishing what you want, your rhino is probably ok.

  18. ArcherDraw says:

    Hi Arthemystia, i’m BM and i need know which is your recomendation for pet (class and spec) in 2v2?

    • Arthemystia says:

      That’s a PvP question, and this article is on tanking. I could offer advice based on what little I know of PvP, and it probably wouldn’t be terrible, but you’d be much better off consulting a true PvP hunter/website.

      Or a sporebat. I hear they make rogues bleed from their anus.

  19. Bill Jones says:

    Great write-up. I do have one question. I am dual specced. BM/MM. I have noticed that as a BM Imy pet has 21 points but as a MM only 17. I just picked up a turtle “Terrorpene” to try out the above build. However, I do not have the talent points for this. Do I need to level the turtle up? Or is this a bug?

    • Arth says:

      This guide assumes that you’re BM. You won’t want to be tanking in MM. As long as you’re lvl 85 and BM, though, you’ll be able to use these builds.

  20. geoffhead says:

    frost, i only have 17 pts to spec my turtle with. how do i get 21? :(((

    • Arth says:

      Be in a Beastmaster spec. This is a tanking guide, so it’s not intended for MM or SV specs.

  21. Extrusion says:

    which one should i use if i want to do solo for mount?

  22. Pickabo says:

    Hi i wander if you can do a list of what pet for what purpose.

    DPS, TANK and others