A pet is any creature that a player can summon or tame.
- Combat pets are companions that a player can partially control to aid them in battle. The classes most associated with combat pets are the hunter and warlock, although frost mages and unholy death knights also have permanent pets.
- Guardian pets are creatures that can be summoned, but cannot be directly controlled. Death knights, shamans, druids, mages, warlocks, and hunters (using snake trap) can all get guardian pets, and items which summon guardian pets can be used by any class.
- Companions (also called non-combat pets, vanity pets, small pets or follow pets) are lesser creatures that only provide aesthetic appeal and do not affect combat. However, companion pets can be used in the Pet Battle System.
Combat pets have their own abilities. Once a pet is summoned, its action bar appears above the player's action bar. All combat pets share six commands; they are Attack, Follow, Stay, Assist, Defensive, and Passive. Each pet can have a maximum of four unique abilities. These abilities are either learnt automatically, or, for Hunter pets, acquired through pet talents.
All pets, with the exception of non-combat pets, will set their owner in combat when they pull aggro. However, if the owner can break combat through effects like or Flask of Petrification, they will remain out of combat until either they or their pet take another aggressive action. This is true even if the owner mounts, which will send any attacking mobs into Evade.
- Main article: Combat pet
World of Warcraft provides two primary combat pet classes: hunter pets and warlock pets. These classes have a number of available combat pets (although only one can be active at a time) and the chosen pet is permanent. Frost mages and Unholy death knights also have permanent combat pets; the water elemental and the Risen Ghoul, respectively.
Many other classes can summon temporary combat pets - priests have the , Balance druids can use to summon 3 treants, and shamans can use and to summon the corresponding elemental, while Enhancement shamans can also use to summon 2 Spirit wolves - but most of these combat pets have a very limited duration, and with sizeable cooldowns are only available part of the time. The only classes not able to summon combat pets are rogues, paladins and warriors.
- Main article: Guardian pet
Guardian pets are similar to combat pets, but are not under the direct control of the player. They are also temporary, fighting on your behalf until they die or their duration expires. Guardians can be summoned by abilities and talent abilities such as , talents such as , or even certain items. Some guardian pets are trinkets; these are usually reusable but limited by a cooldown time. A couple of guardian pets are offhand items, (e.g. and ). One is a sword, , which summons Emerald Dragon Whelps. Others are usable from your inventory but will either be consumable or have a limited number of uses. Guardian pet items can be acquired in the following ways:
- Given as a quest reward for certain quest lines (for example, the quest sequence from Umi Rumplesnicker in Everlook rewards you with ).
- Reputation reward, e.g. the trinket that summons a Timbermaw Ancestor requires Exalted reputation with Timbermaw Hold.
- Constructed by an Engineering schematic (e.g. the or ) or Jewelcrafting recipe (e.g. Felsteel Boar or Truesilver Boar).
- Random area drops (e.g. the that drops in Darkshore).
An early one that many people see is the in the Scarlet Monastery Library, which drops off of Houndmaster Loksey, with 3 charges. A guardian pet will defend its owner, attacking whatever its owner attacks or whatever attacks the owner, which can lead to its attacking unintended targets before the party is ready for them. Caution is necessary before using such a pet in an instance. Use one only in confined spaces or areas where all but a few enemies have been killed, or just don't use it.
- Main article: Companion
Companions are sometimes called small pets, minipets, player pets, trophy pets or vanity pets to distinguish these pets from the pets in the game that can directly help characters in some way (usually by attacking). Companions generally do not fight or respond to commands and are summoned (or dismissed) by right-clicking on an associated item (pet-carrier, collar, stone, etc.). Breanni, a pet supplies vendor in Dalaran, sell Fetch Balls and Rope Pet Leashes.
Small pets can be acquired in the following ways:
- Given as a quest reward for owners of the Collector's Edition of World of Warcraft (Panda Cub, Mini-Diablo, or Zergling).
- Bought from vendors (owls, housecats, etc.).
- Constructed by an Engineering skill recipe (mechanical squirrels).
- Sometimes (usually rarely) found on the corpses of killed monsters (parrots sometimes drop from mobs in the Deadmines).
- Obtained through (often highly obscure) quests (i.e. Westfall Chicken).
While not strictly pets, humanoids may be controlled to act like pets by players or creatures via Mind Control or the . While controlling, the player will gain a pet action bar, allowing him/her to command the humanoid. Mind Control on players in PvP only lasts for 8 seconds, and only allows for movement and the use of a basic melee attack; the target's other abilities are unavailable through Mind Control.
There are other mind control-like effects:
- The allows an engineer to control a mechanical creature.
- You possess a Steam Tonk created by a (or the steam tonk control stands at the Darkmoon Faire).
- certain quests have you possess creatures. Some examples: , ,
- You may have no more than one combat pet and one companion pet summoned at a time. There is no limit on simultaneous guardian pets; a Blood death knight could potentially have 16 at once (10 ghouls, one Risen Ghoul, four Bloodworms from , one ).
- All classes except rogues and warriors are able to summon pets of some kind. All other classes can summon combat pets, except for paladins who can only summon a guardian pet, although Druids not specialized in the Balance tree also cannot summon pets.