Pet Tanking Overview (MoP)

Posted: by Arth

There’s no reason to believe pet tanking won’t be viable in Mists of Pandaria.  Hunters have always faced challenges with tanking, and this expansion will be no different, but the outlook remains hopeful for instance tanking and eventually raid tanking.

Questions or suggestions can always be emailed to me at

Our Strengths:

  • Pets still take the largest heals in the game (+50% all heals) unless I missed a large buff to a tanking class.
  • Pets all but ignore all AoE damage, making AoE abilities non-factors in our tanking.

Our Weaknesses:

  • Pet’s health pools remain relatively low compared to average tanks.  This makes healing windows tighter, and the margin for error smaller.
  • Low armor totals (compared to tank classes) mean that pets take large amounts of physical/melee damage.
  • Kiting remains a problem without a clear solution.  The “Move To” ability is not a reliable substitute.


  • Threat.  Pets can be dodged when attacking from the front, despite our usual hit and expertise caps.  But we also got a boost to our AoE threat, and single target threat was manageable in Cata, so even a slight nerf to pet threat should be viable against all but the most elite (or stupid) dps.  This will need to be monitored once we’re into the content more fully.

As such, our ideal encounter is a stationary single-target boss that is largely magic or AoE damage.  Bosses are rarely so convenient, so we’ll frequently be utilizing our pets’ strengths while simultaneously having to account for their weaknesses.

Healing Your Pet

I recommend a Power Aura for your Mend Pet (or some similar notification) to keep uptime at near 100% when needed, and macroing at least one of your defensive cooldowns to it (Cower or Shell Shield).  Technically we don’t want to stack the two defensive cooldowns (50% reduction and 40% doesn’t equal 90% in this case, it equals 70%, so there’s some mitigation lost if we stack).  However, if you’re new to tanking and want as little downtime on the two as possible, feel free to macro them both together so that you aren’t forgetting to cast them.  I use two different macros and alternate between them every 10 seconds.  Technically even that isn’t fully optimized for cooldown uptime, but manual control over the abilities can get dicey in the middle of a fight, even for experienced players.

Mend Pet is significant.  Keep it up whenever it can help your healer, especially when it means they can ignore your pet for a while to keep the group alive.

Strategies and Tips:

  • Always remember that your pet comes first, both survivability and threat.  Way before personal dps.  Don’t keep a dps’ers mentality when tanking – it’s a different ballgame.
  • Use CC like it’s your job in instances.  Even with the new AoE ability Beast Cleave, you will not hold a whole group off of facerolling dps.  I could never hold more than 2 mobs consistently at the same time, so that’s a good rule of thumb.
  • Make a simple /petattack macro (you can attach it to pet abilities like Kill Command or Blink Strike) so that you can quickly send your pet to a new target.  If multiple targets are up and not CC’d, switch targets frequently to help ensure top aggro.
  • Let your healers know that fast, smaller heals are better for your pet.  And absorbs are best.  Due to the large heals our pets take, and their small-ish health pools, large, slow heals will result in a lot of overheals.  Good healers will be able to make use of this information.
  • It’s important to start small.  If you’ve never tanked, tank low-level instances, run your friends’ alts through easier content, etc.  Not only does it give you experience and confidence, but it gets your guildmates and friends used to the idea of you tanking.  A group that believes in your ability (or one that doesn’t) is a surprisingly strong factor in success.
  • Many boss fights are close to tank & spanks.  The hardest (i.e. most skillful) tanking you’ll do will be in instances on tricky trash pulls.  Never underestimate trash pulls, and use them to hone your skills, since tanking is a very different beast than dps.

Goals and Outlook

This is speculative, but I think our armor totals are going to start making raid tanking less of a possibility than it has been in the past.  We’ll likely need to outgear the content by at least a tier before attempting most bosses.  Past expansions have had a way of proving my skepticism wrong though, which is great, so hopefully I’m wrong again.

Instance tanking shouldn’t go anywhere, and if anything will be stronger in MoP than in past expansions.  Shortly after MoP drops, I expect to be tanking instances (and heroics) regularly.

Stay tuned for more tanking guides on the various aspects of our class.  And once they’re all finished, you’ll be able to find them on the main WHU guide page (similar to what exists currently at the top of the page for Cata).

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  1. Kheldul says:

    BTW, I’m lead to believe that DS Normal/Heroic raids can be done cross realm now.

    Do you think pet tanks can still hold up there while we out-gear some of the content? Or are they now too squishy or current raid content?

    • Arth says:

      A good question that I don’t have a concrete answer to. Morchok was close to being single tankable, but I and Bramman’s pets (only slightly less geared than Dark’s or yours) couldn’t stay up the whole time. Once or twice I lasted a whole “active” phase, but never the entire fight. And Hagara ripped through our best geared tank in no more than about 20-25 seconds. There was a lot of kiting and pet sacrifices. So we were near the line of “too squishy.” Add in the slight drop in health and I’d say we’d have a hard time of it.

  2. Bramman says:

    There is also a glyph which makes our pets unkillable while Beastial Wrath is up 10 seconds (pet still takes damage just can’t die). With readiness call it 20 seconds. With all hunter call it forever!

    • Arth says:

      Yes, the BW glyph will be covered in the spec/glyph tanking guide. It’s not a “get out of jail free” card with tanking, but will certainly help in our all-hunter groups.

  3. Dibbler says:

    Pets lost the bonus threat from growl but gained damage and the ability to taunt more frequently if something does get away. Additionally, misdirection seems to be off the GCD now, which makes a huge difference in the amount of threat you can send to your pet with the glyph.

    For AOE there’s just no comparison; beast cleave and the new thunderstomp, plus again the unlimited misdirection, makes things much cleaner.

    • Arth says:

      All true. Though the point is that, if your pet and some dps go nuts on a trash pull in a 5M or raid, your pet is holding 1-2 mobs at best. Maybe 3 if you’re spectacular at target switching and have the Distracting Shot glyph (pet tanks usually won’t though). Better threat is good, but it doesn’t temper the idea that pulls need to be managed.

      And on bosses, where the taunt will be ignored and pets can be dodged, more dps’ers may have to watch their threat. Cata was about as good as it gets for single target threat. Just last week my pet was holding off of everything up to about 40K dps. I expect that to drop slightly, relative to MoP dps numbers.

  4. timoseewho says:

    I was asked if my pet could temporarily tank the cleave from The Spirit Kings in MV come MoP, is this possible with specific glyphs, talents, etc.?

    • Arth says:

      I can’t answer that definitively. No one has tried, and I don’t have enough raw data to speculate.

      However, there’s some ways you can come to a more educated guess. Is it JUST a cleave AoE you’d be tanking? If so, it’s probably reasonable to assume it works something like, say, Argaloth’s cleave, which pets can eat easily. However, usually bosses aren’t just casting a single ability. Even something as simple as melee swings from bosses will likely crunch our pets into oblivion until we outgear it. So, chances are the answer is “no” but I don’t know that for sure…especially since AoE abilities, in and of themselves, are VERY tankable.

      If our Taunt miraculously works on raid bosses (don’t hold your breath), then we’d be in business, and could grab a boss for a single massive ability, then let the regular tank take over again. There’s also the Distracting Shot glyph, which may have more success with something sneaky like this. Still, I’d be surprised if Blizzard let us get away with something like this. But it’s worth a try once we’re into MV.

  5. lordmogg says:

    Hey all.

    Played twice since the changes. I have to admit that I’m really enjoying the new spells. It is taking a bit of getting used to. Basically all of my macros now do not work so its like starting from scratch once more.

    I quite often run the old raids for loot and fun etc. One of my usual haunts is Blackrock Caverns. Always a good place to solo and get gold.

    I’ve found that on the 6 or 7 times i have run through this instance that the pet now doesn’t hold a group of mobs nearly so well.

    Previous to the changes i would be able to send my turtle in to a group of 5 or 6 and misdirect away and he would keep aggro on all of them until we eventually wore them down. There were however a couple of bosses in the dung that i would avoid due to mechanics and too low dps.

    Since the changes I’ve noticed that if i send my pet in to a similar sized group and misdirect as normal on average at least 2 of the mobs will come over to me and start attacking. Even tho i do not hold the aggro. ( less then 100% ).

    So even with misdirect and the use of feign i always end up now with a few randoms attacking me.

    I have found that if i approach a group this way it helps but only by a small margin:

    Pet attack, Pet Heal, Bestial Wrath, Lynx Rush, Multi shot x 1, Misdirect, Multi, Multi

    Well anyway, I’m waffling. So originally i used my spirit crab as the first tank i made after the patch and found it difficult to keep him alive in some cases. So i switched back to the turtle. Turtle / Bug is still the best tanking pet it seems mainly due to the shield. I have no problem keeping the turtle alive.

    On a side note i have noticed that my dps has improved quite significantly. Even though i sometimes pull mobs now from my pet i can run blackrock in half the time and do all the bosses. I’m loving Dire beast and lynx rush and the beast cleave really helps take a group down.

    On a side note on Dire beast. Not sure if I’m teaching anyone to suck eggs here but I’ve started using it as a pull mechanism and crowd control also.

    i.e. As long as you are selecting a enemy to attack. If you then activate your dire beast they will appear at that mobs destination and start attacking even if you are not shooting or have your pet attacking. It is great for distraction / uptime and aggro.

    Even though i don’t play PVP i would imagine that dire beast would also provide many instances of hilarity where you hide somewhere and then have your dire beast randomly appear behind some opponent.

    ” WTF!! WHere did you come from !!? “

  6. Iron Mike Sharpe says:

    I’m pretty sure Hunter pet armour scaling is broken right now, which is why a lot of people are saying their pets are squishy. If you have a Warlock, check the Voidlord’s armour total. It should be around 32k. Meanwhile if you check your Tenacity pet, it will have around 19k(!)

    I don’t believe pets are currently getting any bonus armour at all from their master. Adding on the bonus armour they SHOULD be getting (around 11.5k) would bring them back up around where the Voidlord is, which I imagine is where they’re intended to be.

  7. Tblakely says:

    I’ve heard the term ‘Beast Cleave’ before but have not known what it means since I haven’t run BM in years. Could a kind soul explain the term?

    • Arth says:

      Beast Cleave is a new AoE ability that will help our pet’s dps, and thus threat for trash tanking. The ability is linked in the article above, under Strategies and Tips.

      It originally referred to a PvP strategy involving Bestial Wrath and a class that provided Bloodlust/Heroism.

  8. Kheldul says:

    Is there a bug thread on pet armor values yet?

  9. Bu says:

    Not sure ’bout tanking but!
    Was running old good MC with Loque as usual, farming blood and ingots.
    So to make a long story short – my pet almost died on Rag. For the last let say few years I’ve almost never healed my pet in MC. There was no reason for it. Some heal on Majo and Rag – that is all. But not anymore… I was shocked how fast pet’s health bar goes down and how slow heal works right now. I hope it’s just a patch bug and Blizz will fix it soon. Will try SSC tonight to make sure.

    P.S. Btw for all of my hunter brothers – if you still running MC for blood, ingots and some gold, loot table was changed again. Sound funny, but I got only 3G as a loot in gold from Rag :O) Not sure if I got any G loot from other bosses…

  10. Friend says:

    Something I noticed soloing Stonecore yesterday for the drake was that every time I hit Bestial Wrath my pet lost a tremendous amount of threat on whatever trash pack it was tanking. At first I thought it was maybe a coincidence and that Mend Pet had ticked over a threat threshold simultaneously, but after repeated tries through out the dungeon, every time I hit BW there was a threat loss, sometimes just enough to to register in Omen / Name Plates and sometimes enough to send 3-4 pissed off elites running in my direction. Has anyone else had any issues with anything like this? For reference I am running the Glyph of Bestial Wrath.

  11. New hunter says:

    Where do I get a new pet after level 10?