Unarmed fox hunting on horseback with hounds is the type of hunting most closely associated with the United Kingdom; in fact, "hunting" without qualification implies fox hunting. What in other countries is called "hunting" is called "shooting" (birds) or "stalking" (deer) in Britain. Originally a form of vermin control to protect livestock, fox hunting became a popular social activity for newly wealthy upper classes in Victorian times and a traditional rural activity for riders and foot followers alike. Similar to fox hunting in many ways is the chasing of hares with hounds. Pairs of Sight hounds (or long-dogs), such as greyhounds, may be used to pursue a hare in coursing, where the greyhounds are marked as to their skill in coursing the hare (but are not intended to actually catch it), or the hare may be pursued with scent hounds such as beagles or harriers. Other sorts of foxhounds may also be used for hunting stags (deer) or mink. Deer stalking with rifles is carried out on foot without hounds, using stealth.
These forms of hunting have been controversial in the UK. Animal welfare supporters believe that hunting causes unnecessary suffering to foxes, horses, and hounds. Proponents argue that it is culturally and perhaps economically important. Using dogs to chase wild mammals was made illegal in February 2005 by the Hunting Act 2004; there were a number of exemptions (under which the activity may not be illegal) in the act for hunting with hounds, but no exemptions at all for hare-coursing.