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AKC Registered Handlers

AKC Registered Handlers

Registered Handler
Registered Handler
Registered Handler

Professional handlers have always played an important role in dog sports and events. Owners rely on their expertise in the care, conditioning and presentation of dogs. The experience and education of professional handlers can mean the difference between a ribbon and a trophy.

The best handlers make the welfare of dogs in their care a priority; are fair and honest in business practices; and conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner – all standards that we outline in our Code of Ethics, which is the foundation of the Registered Handlers Program.

If you’re a professional handler, it’s a must to join this program so you can show clients that you uphold the Code of Ethics, and the criteria for being a responsible, knowledgeable professional handler.

If you’re looking to hire a handler, here’s how to get started.


Tim Thomas, Program Director –

Mary Dukes, Field Coordinator –

Patricia Proctor, Field Coordinator –

Gina Wieser, Field Coordinator –

Susan Judge, Project Manager, Raleigh, NC –

For additional information, please contact:

The American Kennel Club
Handlers Dept.
8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27617-3390
phone: 919-816-3884

  • Program Details & Benefits +

    When a professional handler participates in the Registered Handlers Program, you set a good example for newcomers to the profession and you educate the public about what to look for in a true professional handler. The program offers the following benefits:

    • Public recognition for handlers enrolled in the program.
    • Contact information listed on AKC handler directory.
    • Direct incoming calls from owners seeking handlers.
    • Publication in AKC Gazette.
    • Separate designation in show catalogs for AKC Registered Handlers.
    • Participation in the Apprenticeship program for additional credit.
    • $10,000 Life Insurance Benefit ($6,500 for age 65 and older)
    • 10% product discount from Cherrybrook
    • 10% product discount from Harry O

    To receive an application packet for the Registered Handler Program, e-mail your request to:, call 919-816-3884 or write to: American Kennel Club, Attn: Handlers Department, 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27617-3390.

    Fees and Process for the Registered Handler Program:

    • Annual dues of $250 to be paid by Jan. 31 (Discounted based upon attendance of RHP ongoing education and participation in RHP activities.)
    • Mandatory ongoing education provided by the RHP throughout the year around the country.
    • Mandatory bi-annual vehicle inspection (to be conducted in “odd”–numbered years, i.e. 2015, 2017)

    We also offer the AKC RHP Initiate Program for upcoming career-driven professional handlers into the program who meet the requirements for membership with suitable facilities, safe and adequate transport vehicle, Care, Custody and Control insurance, etc. If you’re interested in applying under the AKC RHP Initiate Program, applications are available by e-mailing your request to:, calling 919-816-3884 or writing to: American Kennel Club, Attn: Handlers Department, 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27617-3390.

  • Who Can Participate +

    To apply for the Registered Handler Program, you must have:

    • A minimum of seven years’ experience showing dogs for a fee (documentation may be required). Credit available for years as an RHP Apprentice.
    • Kennel facilities that meet AKC recommended criteria.
    • Completed the RHP membership application.
    • Proof of Kennel ownership or lease.
    • Proof of care, custody and control liability insurance at time of application and proof of renewal each year after becoming a member.
    • Adequate vehicle to transport show dogs.
    • Current rate schedule and handler/client contract
    • Copy of current driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
    • Three (3) Reference Letters (Business, Client, Veterinarian).
    • Sign the Code of Ethics for Registered Handlers.
    • $100 application fee (non-refundable). $150 balance due at time of full acceptance. (First member of household).

    Read More About Ongoing Annual Requirements


Royal Canin Sponsorship Logo

AKC Registered Handler Program Sponsored by Royal Canin