Getting Started in Junior Showmanship
Join the world of AKC Junior Showmanship!
Juniors are important to the future of the sport of dogs and responsible dog ownership, and the more they learn, the more valuable they become. The values, attitudes and responsibility learned through Junior Showmanship will serve youngsters well throughout their lives. By putting time and effort into learning about their dog and how to present it, juniors are rewarded with a win.
Who may participate
Junior Showmanship classes are open to children from 9 to 18 years old and are divided into Novice and Open classes: All participants in Junior Showmanship classes must have an AKC Junior Showmanship Handler Number. Novice classes are for those children who, at the time entries close, have not won three (3) first-place awards in a Novice class at a licensed or member show. To qualify as a win, more than one child must be in competition in a class. The Novice class gives those children who are beginners a chance to gain experience and confidence apart from the more seasoned youngsters. Open classes are for those children having three or more first-place wins; these are the more experienced Junior Handlers. A beginner can learn how to present their dog more effectively by watching these talented youngsters in the ring.
The classes may further be divided into:
- Junior: At least 9 years old but under 12 years old on the day of the show.
- Intermediate: At least 12 years old but under 15 years old on the day of the show.
- Senior: At least 15 years old but under 18 years old on the day of the show.
Juniors are judged on their ability to present, or handle, their dogs within the same formats and guidelines as those who compete in the breed ring. The quality of their presentation, not the dog, is judged. Juniors are encouraged to develop their handling abilities, dress appropriately, conduct themselves in a proper manner, and present their dog in a well-groomed condition.
What about the dog?
Any dog entered must be eligible to compete in dog shows or obedience trials. The dog must be owned by the child, a member of the child's family or member of his household. Many times junior showmanship classes are free (if the dog is entered in regular classes) or are offered at the reduced rate.
How to get started
The best way for prospective junior handlers to see what is involved in junior handling is to watch the Junior Showmanship classes at a dog show. They will see how children take part at all levels of competition, how they have developed friendships and have learned to compete and accept their wins and losses in a gracious manner. Talk to these young participants in our sport. You will be impressed by their knowledge, attitudes and their willingness to share their experiences with someone new to the sport. Another way to learn the basics is at your local dog club. Many clubs offer weekly handling classes. These informal sessions are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere and afford both dog and handler an opportunity to practice in a setting similar to an actual show.
For the AKC Rules and Regulations please visit:
- How do I get a Junior Showmanship number?
Call 919-233-9767 and leave your name, address and birthdate. E-mail: email@example.com
- What is a Junior Showmanship Number and do I need to have one to compete in AKC events?
A Junior Showmanship Number is a number you use when you enter an event. It is used to track your wins, and determine eligibility for Open once three firsts with competition has been earned. In Companion and Performance Events your Junior number is linked to the dog's results to recognize your handling the dog to a title.
- How do I find out about shows?
Juniors can look in the Events Calendar on the AKC Website, to see which shows are holding Junior Showmanship as well as all Companion and Performance Events.
- Who is eligible for Conformation Junior Showmanship Competition?
Effective January 1, 2005 any boy or girl who is at least 9 years old and under the 18 years of age the day of the show.
- How do I move up from a Novice class to an Open class?
Juniors can move into the Open class once they have won 3 first place awards in a Novice class. Competition must be present in all 3 Novice classes in order for the Junior to move up.
- What does Amateur Class mean in reference to Junior Showmanship?
As of January 1, 2000 any individual who is listed as an agent is not eligible to compete in Junior Showmanship, nor any person who distributes rate cards otherwise advertises themselves as handling dogs for pay in the show ring, or accepts payment for handling.
- Will a Junior lose amateur status if they work for a professional handler?
Junior Showmanship is intended to encourage Juniors to learn how to care for and present different breeds. Part of the educational process could include apprenticeship or assisting professional handlers. Juniors may take their employers' dogs into the ring while still retaining amateur status.
- What if I don't own a purebred dog? Can I show someone else's?
Each dog must be owned by the Junior Handler or by the Junior Handler's father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother, including the corresponding step and half relations, or by a member of the Junior Handler's household.
- What dogs are eligible to show in Juniors?
To enter a dog in a Conformation Junior Showmanship Class it must be eligible for entry in an AKC Dog Show or Obedience Trial. This includes dogs that have Purebred Alternative Listings (PAL), Limit Registration status or Miscellaneous Breed.
- Can a Junior handler show a spayed or neutered dog in Junior Showmanship Competition?
Yes a spayed or neutered dog is eligible for Junior Showmanship competition.
- My dog that was entered is unable to go to the show, can I substitute?
One substitution per show is allowed. The dog must meet the same eligibility requirements as the entered dog. The substitution must be accompanied by an official AKC entry form including the substituted dog's AKC registration number. The substitution must be made at least one half hour prior to the judging of any Junior Showmanship Classes.
- If a Junior is entered in the wrong class for their age, can the Junior change the entry after it has closed?
Yes. This transfer must be made at least one-half hour prior to the judging of any Junior Showmanship class at the show.
- If a Junior from one the Novice classes wins Best Junior Handler at a show, does this win count towards moving towards the Open classes?
No. Only wins in either the Novice Junior or Senior classes with competition will count
- How do you qualify for the Masters class? Juniors with 10 first place wins in open move into ONE Masters Class and it restarts each year.
- What juniors learn in this sport: Self confidence, responsibility, decision making, dedication, good work ethics and sportsmanship. Things that build character and help kids grow into successful hardworking adults.
To find out more about Junior Showmanship please visit: