Choosing a good pet these days is pretty easy: just close your eyes and pick, and you'll probably get a pretty decent pet.
But if you want the best pet -- and who doesn't want the best pet? -- you may need to put some thought into it. This guide aims to help you with that.
The first question you need to ask yourself is: the best pet for what? Unfortunately there is no single one best pet for every hunter and every situation -- if there were this guide would be very short! However since pet damage has been standardized they are all really very close. What it comes down to is the look you like and the family ability.
Let's start by thinking about what you'll be using this pet to do. Here are some possibilities, and you may have others in mind as well:
Since hunters can have five pets with them at all times (and an additional 50 in the stables!) you may want to cover most of these purposes, using a different pet for each. (But just to simplify the process, we suggest you work on choosing one pet at a time.)
Of course, not all these roles listed above require the same things from your pet. Some of them, like looking good in town, are very subjective. But for if you need a pet for combat purposes -- and most hunters do -- then we have some basic guidelines that may help you choose a pet. You'll want to start by looking at the different pet skills.
Refer to our Family Abilities guide for the abilities that will be discussed below.
The core family abilities are important because they can really add a lot to your pet's role if they're a good fit. Of course, if the pet you want doesn't have a family ability that fits, it's not the end of the world, but in a difficult raid or dungeon it can be a missed opportunity. If your group is short on any abilities, you may pick a pet that complements them. For example, if your pet could end up tanking you should consider taking a pet with more defensive abilities, or if your group is a little short on heals, and you are a Beast Master, you might consider taking a spirit beast.
For a PvP pet, you may want to look for abilities that slow, reduce healing, or exotic abilities that create DoTs.
If your pet will be tanking for you and your friends, consider a Tenacity pet which has increased health and decreased damage. Families with defense, dodge, or triggered defense abilities also work well in these situations, as do exotic pets with abilities that reduce damage or increase armor. The same skills that make a good tank also make a good defensive solo pet. If you end up taking a lot of damage anyway, you might consider a spirit beast which can heal you as you fight.
While the family skill is arguably the most important factor in choosing a family, there are a couple of other things you should think about as well.
A pet's personality includes the overall look of the pet, the way it sounds, and its behavior. The sounds that some pets make may increasingly annoy you or your group, while some large pets (bats with big wingspans, for example) might get in the way and become disruptive (note: pet scaling is much better these days and pet size is less often an issue).
The big question, when you are considering family personality is: Can you live with a pet from this family? Or are you going to hate it minutes after taming?
If you hate cats, you probably shouldn't tame a cat even if the stats and skills look good for you. And if you have a strong fear of spiders, you probably don't want a tarantula!
Once you are happy with your chosen family, it's time to choose the particular pet. This step is simple: because all pets in a family are identical in gameplay terms, all you have to do is find one that looks good to you -- and that is your level or lower (so you can tame it!).
Of course, once you tame the pet you may find out that its skill doesn't quite work as well as you'd like with your playstyle. Or maybe you find that the squeal it makes when it attacks is really getting on your nerves. That's okay -- there are a huge number of other families for you to try out. With that much choice, you will find the best pet for you.
One final words of advice: don't get too caught up in choosing the single most absolute best pet in the world. What matters is that you and your pet work well together and that you both have fun.