A summary of important pet differences in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
World of Warcraft has changed so much since Wrath of the Lich King. Even if you played back then, you'll probably have trouble remembering all the differences, so here's a cheat sheet of what we know. If you have any additions or amendments, please report them on our forums!
Differences to Burning Crusade Classic.
Exotic pet families: Exotic families were introduced for the first time in Wrath and are only available to Beast Masters.
You no longer have to train your pets, and the pet skill system of Burning Crusade and Vanilla has been removed. Learning skills to teach your pets is a thing of the past. Instead, WotLK Classic pets come with a set list of skills depending on their family, as well as talent skills from their talent trees.
Each family now has a specific role / talent tree: Cunning, Ferocity, or Tenacity. You should recognize these roles from the retail game, as they were first introduced in WotLK and have remained in place ever since. Each family is locked to a specific role and you can't switch them.
Pet now have talent trees. The talent tree your pet uses depends on its family role (Cunning, Ferocity, or Tenacity). You advance talents in the tree using talent points. Your pet gains talent points as it levels. Starting at level 20, pets get 1 talent point every 4 levels. Pet talents appear in your spellbook and can be added to your toolbar like any other spell/ability.
Health, armor, and damage modifiers are now linked to the talent tree, rather than the individual family. So, all Cunning pets have the same health modifier. From the start of WotLK Classic, pets also have a 5% bonus to health, armor, and damage (this was originally added in Patch 3.1).
Pets now get 45% of their owner's stamina added to their own. Up from 30% in BC.
Pets have innate resistances to Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow damage. You no longer have to train them in this. The percentage resistance is equal to the pet's level. So, a level 20 pet has 20% resistance to Arcane damage.
Pet Loyalty has been removed. Your pets will never run away again! Pet Happiness still exists and will affect how well your pet performs.
Newly-tamed pets start no less than 5 levels below their hunter. If a wild pet is more than 5 levels below your level then it'll be raised to 5 levels below you when tamed. Old, low-level stabled pets should be levelled up the same way when first removed from the stable.
Pets still require levelling, but should only require 5% of the experience of a player of the same level. Originally, it was around 16%, then decreased to 10% at the start of original WotLK and finally decreased to 5% in Patch 3.3.0. The 5% level should be implemented from the start of Classic.
More stable slots. Two more pet stable slots are available for purchase in WotLK Classic, bringing the total to four stable slots and one active pet. In addition, the removal of pet skill training means hunters no longer need to keep a slot free for taming pets to learn new skills from.
Pet diet changes: Raw Meat and Raw Fish have been removed again. They only existed during BC. Bats now eat meat. Gorillas, Tallstriders, and Turtles now eat bread. Nether Rays now eat fungus. Hyenas no longer eat fruit. Serpents no longer eat fish.
Differences to retail WoW.
You can only own five pets (at a time).
You can own a maximum of five pets: four with the stablemaster and one with you.
Pets have happiness, which must be maintained.
Pets are very unhappy when you first tame them. You must increase their happiness (the easiest method is by feeding them an appropriate food), or they won't perform as well. See our family pages for lists of what different pets will eat. Pets won't need feeding when lodged with a stablemaster. Note that Loyalty no longer exists in WotLK Classic, so your pets will never run away, no matter how unhappy they are.
You must level your pets.
Unlike the retail game, newly-tamed WotLK pets will start no more than 5 levels below your own level when you tame them, and won't automatically level when you do. You have to use your pet in combat so they gain levels and experience, but in order to level they only require 5% of the experience that you do!
You don't start with a pet at level 1.
Until level 10 you're on your own! At level 10 you'll be offered a quest chain with two parts that teaches you how to tame pets and how to feed them. Make sure you complete that second part (a delivery quest to your capital) before you rush off to tame your new companion, because if you don't know how to feed it you may find it's run away before you can learn how.
Pets have talent trees.
The talent tree your pet uses depends on its family role (Cunning, Ferocity, or Tenacity). You advance talents in the tree using talent points. Your pet gains talent points as it levels. Starting at level 20, pets get 1 talent point every 4 levels. Pet talents appear in your spellbook and can be added to your toolbar like any other spell/ability.
Pet families and appearances.
There are 32 pet families in Wrath of the Lich King Classic.
See our home page for a full list, and click on any icon to see the full set of family looks that can be tamed. All of the WotLK families should be familiar to you, except that in the retail game Rhinos are Clefthooves, Silithids are Aqiri, and Nether Rays are simply Rays.
Not all family looks are tameable.
It was only in Cataclysm that a large number of previously-unavailable looks became tameable (thanks Muffinus!), but there are still loads of really lovely LK pets to enjoy. See our Tameable Looks Gallery for all 260 available looks.
Most family abilities are different to those in retail.
Check the lists in our abilities guide. Almost all abilities have ranks which will increase naturally with your pet's level - they don't need to be deliberately advanced or trained.