“Try not to have a good time… this is supposed to be educational.”
– Charles Schulz, famous cartoonist and creator of Peanuts (Snoopy is our favorite, of course!)
You’ll probably be tempted to quote Charles Schulz when you introduce your child to Junior Showmanship. These events are packed with learning opportunities — but they’re super fun at the same time.
Children have always been an important part of the future of canine sports, dating back to 1920 when the first competition for children handlers was held. Think of Junior Showmanship (also called “Junior Handling”) as a training ground for a life-long journey in dog shows and sports. Children 9 to 18 years old learn basic handling abilities, and how to care for, and present, different breeds in a competition. While Juniors are judged by an official AKC Judge, it’s the quality of their presentation that is judged, not the dog.
Participating in Junior Showmanship will teach your child many important life lessons — how to be a good sport, how to put one’s mind to something and master it; and how training can lead to a very special bond with a dog. And who knows? Your kid just might love Junior Showmanship so much it might eventually lead to a possible career path!
To compete, your child must be between 9 and under 18 years old and must obtain a Junior Number prior to the day of the event to track your wins.
Juniors must be able to control their dogs at all times. While the dog himself is not judged, your dog must be owned or co-owned by the Junior Handler or the Junior Handler’s father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother, including corresponding step and half relations, or by a permanent member of the Junior Handler’s household. Plus, your dog must be:
- At least 6 months of age.
- Physically sound and up-to-date on all inoculations and health check-ups.
- Have an AKC number via one of the following:
- AKC Registration as one of the 193 recognized breeds.
- Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program, which is for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC to participate in AKC events.
- Eligibility of all Foundation Stock Service®(FSS) dogs for Junior Showmanship effective as of January 1, 2018.
- Spayed females and neutered males are eligible to participate but females in season are not.
- Dogs that are blind are not eligible.
- No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.
If you, or your child, haven’t actually seen a Junior Showmanship competition in person, we highly recommend that you observe one. You will see how kids take part and interact with each other, the strong friendships they’ve developed, and how they handle their wins and losses.
There are many ways to find a Junior Showmanship event: By asking your local AKC Club for a copy of the Premium List, which details date, location and judges of all classes at a particular show; by visiting the Superintendent’s office at any show; by subscribing to the AKC Gazette and receive the official Events Calendar as a part of your subscription; or by searching here.
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With over 22,000 annual events, there is a sport for you.
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