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AKC Scent Work: Judges Approval Process

AKC Scent Work: Judges Approval Process


Active in Scent Work for a minimum of 3 years, either as a sport participant or as a working detection dog handler (volunteer or professional).

No candidate will be approved to be a judge without this minimum, but experience will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Three years of competing in the sport, without additional enriching experience, may be deemed to be insufficient. If you are concerned that you may not meet the eligibility criteria, please e-mail  before beginning work on the additional requirements.



  • Apprenticeship under an authorized Expert Judge (email to request a list of Expert Judges) For any apprenticeships you must receive the consent of the club hosting the trial
    • Must shadow an expert judge for at least 1 class in each element, and at least 1 class of Handler Discrimination (Minimum of 5 classes).
    • Must shadow at multiple difficulty levels, through at least Novice and Advanced (Excellent and Master are encouraged).
  • Online Scent Work Judge’s Education Course
  • Scent Work Judge’s Quiz (online)
  • $35 Processing Fee (collected via the cost of the online Scent Work Judge’s Quiz)
  • 10 additional Education Points
  • Must attend a Scent Work judges seminar within 2 years of becoming a provisional judge.  To find a seminar please use our searchable seminar directory.  Anyone is welcomed to attend. For any club wishing to schedule a seminar, please email: .


Education Points:

  • 8 Points- Attending an AKC-Sanctioned Scent Work Judges seminar
  • 5 Points- Mentorship under an authorized “Expert Judge” (judge candidate may have multiple mentors if desired, but only 1 mentorship can count toward the education points)
  • 4 Points- Titling a dog to an AKC Scent Work Master title (maximum of 4 points can be earned by titling dogs- multiple titled dogs do not earn additional education points)
  • 2 Points- Working as a Hide Steward at a licensed trial (judge candidate may earn up to 6 points from Hide Stewarding, however, each Hide Steward assignment must be under a different judge to earn education points).




Once the above requirements have been satisfied, a completed packet with all required forms must be sent to: or can be mailed to: AKC Performance Judges Dept., 8051 Arco Corp. Drive, Raleigh, NC 27617. Processing time can be 6-8 weeks depending on volume of incoming. Candidates cannot begin to take assignments until they have received approval.


What Happens Next?

Once the application packet is processed and approved, the judge candidate will receive an email and be an AKC Scent Work Provisional Judge, eligible to judge Novice and Advanced level classes.

To ensure that Provisional Judges have support for their first several judging assignments, individuals licensed provisionally are not able to accept judging assignments unless there is a fully-approved judge on the panel (this means that provisional judges may not accept assignments for which they will be the sole judge.)

Provisional judges must also submit a Search Evaluation Form that discusses the search design and pass rates for each class that they judge.

In order to be elevated from provisional to fully-approved status the judge must meet the following requirements:

  • Submit five positive reviews from separate Trial Chairpersons that they have judged for
  • Submit five positive reviews from separate fully-approved AKC Scent Work Judges with whom they have worked
  • Complete at least 1 assignment judging each element at each difficulty level


Provisional Judge Review Forms:

Once the above requirements are met, the judge will be granted “Approved” status for the Novice and Advanced levels, and will also be granted “Provisional” status for the higher-level classes (Excellent, Master, and Detective Class). Two positive trial chair reviews and two positive judge reviews (from separate individuals) from provisional judging assignments at higher levels are necessary to be elevated to “Approved” status for Excellent, Master, and the Detective Class.


Full Approval Judge Review Forms: