4.0.1 Pet Spec overview

A quick rundown of Ferocity, Tenacity and Cunning pet specs in 4.0.1. Also, this is of course 4.0.1 (Cata Systems) and so is pre-85. I’m currently working on a properly updated pet spec guide at this time.

Firstly, quick “thank you” to Icesnake for reminding me that I wanted to write about this.

Testing Methodology

This is the result of me playing with the pet specs on live, since we have no tools to simulate with at the moment. DPS testing initially involved unleashing a pet on a target dummy and letting it auto-attack, measuring white and basic attack damage only. Pets were allowed to build to 5 stacks of Frenzy and stay there. Unfortunately pets became focus starved REALLY quickly with this method, and since one of the pet talents fires only above 50% focus this ruined the testing somewhat. In the end I settled for firing auto-shots into the target dummy (for Go for the Throat procs) while blowing Focus Fire when my pet’s Frenzy stacks hit 5.

Read on for Ferocity, Tenacity and Cunning pet specs and some discussion!


Ferocious pets still have the most ‘direct damage’ enhancing talents. They still seem to have a clear lead on against the other pet-classes in terms of straight easy-to-measure damage. Actually, most of my testing for Ferocity focused on whether to put points in Shark Attack or Wild Hunt for best effect. It turned out that 2/2 Wild Hunt was worth about 100 DPS more for me than 2/2 Shark Attack, but I’m really not sure how well the two would scale with gear against each other. If your gear is considerably better or worse than mine you’ll probably want to test it for yourself. The difference between 2/2 Wild Hunt, 2/2 Shark Attack and 1/2 in each is pretty minimal, really, but your pet will be blowing the top off his focus meter and wasting a lot of focus regen if you don’t pick up Wild Hunt.

Beastmastery Specs

These specs include the extra four pet talent points from Beast Master.

Maximum DPS

To talent your pet for sheer maximum damage, follow the spec below (Click for wowhead calculator link):

Ferocity spec for Beastmasters, Max DPS!This is nice and simple, picking up every talent that affects DPS in the tree. Even with the extra four points, there’s not a huge amount of space to play around with survivability talents without losing yourself DPS. You could reallocate the point in Dash for one of the other first-tier survivability talents, but the quicker your pet gets to the target the quicker you can be sending Kill Command. You could also repurpose the two points in Bloodthirsty – I recommend it as it’s an automatic self heal and maintains happiness. Remember that Kill Command damage is affected by happiness now too.

Raiding (Contingency)

I’m currently running with this, because I’m more nervous than ever about losing my pet post-4.0. Heart of the Phoenix is an instant, free revive pet once every eight minutes while Lick Your Wounds stops your pet from attacking for five seconds (bad) but heals him by 100% during that time (good!). Pet stopping to heal for five seconds is better than pet dying and hunter stopping to revive for nine seconds.

Clearly, the best solution is not to let your pet die but the fact of the matter is that some unreasonable random damage will occur that Blizzard haven’t thought to make pets immune to, healers won’t help your pet out, mend pet will be insufficient and your pet will end up critted or dotted into oblivion. If you’re a Marksman or Survivor, that’s not great but it doesn’t happen too often and you can keep going without your pet. If you’re a Beastmaster, your usefulness in this fight is at an end until you can get your pet back up.

Ferocity raiding survivability spec.You have to lose Shark Attack to take HotP and LYW, but the DPS loss is actually pretty minimal for me. Also dead pets do no damage, etc.

High-Survivability Solo Build

I’m thinking about a good soloing spec – I can’t imagine a Ferocious pet being as survivable as a Tenacious one when both are talented properly, but I think there’s plenty of scope for questing and so forth with Ferocious pets. This’ll be included in “Zoology for Hunters: Part 1: Ferocity (Mk II)” or whatever I decide to call it.

Non-Beastmastery Specs

For Marksman and Survivors with 16 points to spend.

Maximum DPS

This spec picks up all the key DPS talents. I imagine this is what most of you will want for raids.

Click for Link!When compared with the BM full DPS spec, you will lose one point in Bloodthirsty, one point in Wild Hunt and two in Shark Attack. With that said, your pet does far less damage as a percentage of your total output than Beast Mastery. This spec should have your animal companion turning out her best contribution to your damage.

Raiding (Contingency)?

It’s really, really hard to find any points to spend on the key ‘ah, crap’ talents, Heart of the Phoenix and Lick Your Wounds. If you are finding pet survivability a problem, you have two main options: You can pull points out of Dash and Bloodthirsty and reallocate – perhaps to Great Stamina – with no DPS loss (Bloodthirsty is a self-heal though, so it already affects survivability). If you want to pick up Heart of the Phoenix you have harder decisions to make. HotP requires 2/2 Bloodthirsty, so you have to free up two talent points further down the tree to pick up your instant free revive. This is the best I’ve been able to do:

Ferocity raid survivability spec for non BeastmastersI’ve removed a point from Wild Hunt and one point from Spiked Collar. This will give you access to Heart of the Phoenix. If you want to grab LYW, you could strike another point from Spiked Collar but I don’t really recommend it. Heh, I don’t really recommend picking up HotP for non-beastmasters actually, but if you’re having trouble keeping your pet alive even an untalented pet does more damage than a dead one. First, I’d suggest trying to work out what is disintegrating your pet and looking at how you might prevent it. If it’s big random damage though, you may find it helpful to have HotP as an emergency button.

Note: It may be worth more DPS to strike another point from Spiked Collar and spend it on 1/2 Wild Hunt. I haven’t tested this, but I might try and persuade Semseye to fire some shots into a target dummy for me as Survival.

High Survivability Solo Build

This space intentionally blank.


I am currently working out Tenacity specs for you. However, initial testing indicates pretty clearly that Tenacious pets just aren’t doing as much damage as Ferocity, even talented exclusively for maximum DPS.

Zoology for Hunters: Tenacity is on its way. It’s damn near impossible to discuss Tenacity talenting in short-form!


So. Cunning.

I finally levelled up the Bird of Prey I tamed ages ago, talented up and spent some time both with target dummies and in heroics. I was impressed. Cunning pets are turning out quite a lot of damage, actually – I’m finding it hard to get numbers consistent enough to say what the difference is between Cunning and Ferocity (target dummy damage doesn’t say it all as Cunning pets do more damage to enemies below 35% health). I reckon you could probably take a Cunning pet to a raid, although I’ve not got comparative numbers to back that up.

PvP specs in the full Zoology for Hunters: Cunning article, they’re complicated. First, the DPS specs!

Beastmastery Specs

These specs include the extra four talent points from Beast Master.

Maximum DPS

This is the heroic and (potentially!) raiding spec.

Cunning Max DPS spec for Beast MastersI’ve picked up 1/2 Mobility (which allows you to keep dash/dive up nearly all the time as a beastmaster), Carrion Feeder (which is quite a powerful HoT if you have a handy corpse) and Cornered. These points do not directly affect DPS (apart from Cornered but that requires your pet to be injured pretty badly) and you can reallocate them at will. From a PvE perspective it might actually make more sense to reallocate the points in Cornered to a survivability talent – Great Stamina for example.

Wolverine Bite and Owl’s Focus are very good now. Roar of Recovery is excellent also for boss fights but also for trash pulls where you don’t have enough time on target to Steady Shot and get focus starved.

Non-Beastmastery Specs

For you Survivors and Marksmen with 16 points to spend.

Maximum DPS

You don’t have to sacrifice any of the key DPS talents on the 16-point spec.

Cunning Max DPS Spec for Non-BeastmastersCompared to the BM spec, I drop Cornered (or whatever points you may put in alternate survivability enhancing talents), Mobility and Carrion Feeder.


2 thoughts on “4.0.1 Pet Spec overview

  1. Petoffen 13/03/2011 / 21:27

    When it says ‘pvp specs soon’, last October, and it’s March…:)

    Another spec says it’s ‘coming tomorrow’.

    • Durkonkell 15/03/2011 / 15:45

      Aye, I took an unscheduled wow-break around this time (I’m only really back now). Since especially the PvP specs were reliant on me playing the game and figuring out what works and what doesn’t they didn’t really get done.

      Sorry :P

      I’ll be bringing “Zoology for Hunters” up to date for 4.x soonish, and that’ll have all the pet specs, theory and practice you could reasonably require! Since this was very much ‘experimenting with pet specs in early Cataclysm’, it likely won’t be updated. I will however correct the ‘coming tomorrow’ stuff!

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