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Junior Showmanship FAQs

Junior Showmanship FAQs

last updated 7/5/2023

How do I join the AKC National Junior Organization?
Everyone who has a Junior Showmanship number is automatically entered in the AKC National Junior Organization.

How do I get a Junior Showmanship number?

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?
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.

If a Junior from the Novice classes wins Best Junior Handler at a show, does this win count towards moving towards the Open classes?
Yes.   A first place in Novice without competition leading to a Best Junior award with competition would count as one win towards moving to Open.

What does Amateur status 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 or 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?
Yes, effective July 1, 2023 Juniors no longer are required to own or co-own the dog they are competing with.

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. This includes dogs that have Purebred Alternative Listings (PAL), Full or Limit Registration status or FSS 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 prior to the judging of the class at the show.

How do I learn to show my dog?
There are several ways to learn to show a dog, and probably a combination of all of these would provide for the most well rounded experience. You may attend breed handling classes given by your local kennel club. You could watch experienced breeders and handlers show your breed at a show, or you could ask a professional handler that shows your breed for some pointers when they have some free time. Beyond that practice, practice, practice.

Is there a special juniors class for Companion Events?
There is not a special class, however Juniors are recognized for competing in all the Companion Events. The junior will enter the dog in the class in which it would normally compete for the event. In each of these events the dogs are scored individually on their performance. A Junior handling a dog to a Companion title will receive a certificate and may request a specially designed pin. The Junior is to obtain the Certification forms, fill it out and have the judge, field rep or trial secretary sign it.

How does a Junior record their participation in Companion and Performance Events?
It is the responsibility of the Junior to have a Junior Handler certification form filled out and signed by the judge on the day of the event. One copy is sent in with the judge’s book and the Junior should keep one copy.

How do I get the Junior Handler Certification forms?
They may be obtained from the Show Secretary, Superintendent, Field Representative, or by contacting the American Kennel Club at or download.

How old must you be to be eligible to apply as a Junior Showmanship Only Judge?
You must be 18 years old to be eligible to apply as a Junior Showmanship Judge.

Is there a minimum age for Judging Juniors at a match show?
There is no minimum age for judging Juniors at a match. If you have substantial experience and would feel comfortable, and have been invited to judge, then it is okay.

How do you obtain the Junior Newsletter?
The Junior Newsletter is now an enewsletter.  Past issues are archived online.

If a Junior is entered in the wrong class for their age or division can the Junior change the entry after it has closed?
Yes. This transfer must be made  prior to the judging of the class at the show.