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Everything You wanted to Know About Junior Showmanship But Were Afraid To Ask

1) What is Junior Showmanship?

Junior Showmanship is a class where the Juniors' handling ability is evaluated. It is for school-aged kids to come together to better understand what goes on in the ring. Juniors are evaluated on their grace, knowledge of procedures, and ability to present their dog to the best of their ability. It was originally setup to "prepare" kids to enter the breed ring successfully, but many kids are successful handlers BEFORE they are eligible to show in Junior handling. It teaches the grace of losing and the sportsmanship of winning. It also brings together peers.

2) Why should kids participate in Junior Showmanship?

Other than the fact that it's FUN, there are lots of good reasons to show in Juniors. It is a great learning experience for both you and your dog. It gives you self confidence, teaches good sportsmanship, prepares you and your dog for the conformation ring. It helps you become a better handler by making you focus on your handling skills and encourages you to improve. You get to meet neat friends who share your interest in dogs. You get a solid foundation in your doggy hobby. The list goes on and on.

3) How old does someone need to be to show in Juniors?

In AKC a junior is eligible to show from the day they are 9 years old until they turn 18 years old.

4) How do I get an AKC Junior Showmanship Number?

You may obtain your junior identification number by calling the AKC, Event Records Department, (212) 696-8281. Your AKC junior number will include your birth date.

5) What are the different classes for Juniors?

In AKC the juniors are divided into age groups: juniors (9 years old and under 12 years old), intermediates (12 years old and under 15 years old) and seniors (15 years old and under 18 years old). Within each age group there is a division for experience. Novice is for juniors just starting and Open is for the more experienced handlers. When first competing, you will begin in Novice Classes.

6) How do you get from the Novice Classes to the Open Classes?

You must receive three first placements in the Novice Class (with competition) before you are eligible to move into the Open Class. If you receive 2 Novice wins and then change age class, you will only need to win one more novice class to move into Open Class. Once you are eligible for Open Classes you do not need to go back to the Novice Class.

7) How old does your dog need to be to show in Juniors?

In AKC a dog is eligible for Junior Showmanship if it is 6 months of age.

8) Which dogs are eligible for Junior Showmanship?

Any dog shown in Junior Showmanship must be owned by the Junior Handler, or their father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother (this includes half and step relations and any member of the juniors household). A dog may be spayed or neutered. The requirement is that the dog be eligible to compete in Dog Show or Obedience Trials. Bitches in season are not eligible. The dog must be in your control, and may not be aggressive.

9) Should your dog be a Champion or not?

A dog does not need to be a Champion to compete in Junior Showmanship. But a correctly groomed well-trained dog is a big "plus" for Juniors competition.

10) Is there a better breed for a Junior's dog?

As long as you practice and have a good bond with your dog you should be a great team. All breeds are shown a bit differently and as long as you and your dog show correctly for you breed, you should do well.

11) How can I get help & practice for Junior Showmanship?

It is a big help to go to shows and watch and talk to juniors outside the ring. Also, you might want to attend conformation-handling lessons until you understand showing. Another good choice is to enter a fun match. It is less expensive and gives you experience. Local All-Breed Clubs can help you find a training class and some 4-H Clubs offer training classes. You may also learn from handlers, parents, books, and videotapes.

12) How do I enter my dog in a show?

You must first get a premium list for the show you are interested in entering. You may receive a premium list from the show giving club or the show superintendent. The premium list will tell you the judge, date, and cost of the show.

13) After entries close, can you change your Juniors Dog?

Yes! As long as you complete an AKC entry form and turn it in to the superintendent of the show at least one half hour before Junior judging. And the dog meets all other requirements for Junior Showmanship competition.

14) Does the appearance of the dog count?

The dog needs to be washed, brushed and groomed to the standard for the breed.

15) Does your appearance count?

Yes. Junior handlers should be neat and clean, with hair out of their face. Your clothing should be appropriate and clean (a grooming smock will help keep you clean and free of loose dog hair prior to ring time).

16) What should you wear?

Boys should wear a shirt and tie with a tie-tack in place so it won't flop around, slacks and comfortable clean shoes. A sport coat or a sweater would be nice. Pockets for bait are a must. For girls, culottes, skirts or dresses that are knee to mid-calf length (to accommodate your bending over) are all good choices. Make sure the length of the outfit does not interfere with your dog (a long flowing skirt flying in the face of a toy dog is not a good idea!). Find comfortable shoes that will not slip off or cause you to lose your footing. Try to find pockets in your show-clothes, or use a bait bag. Do try to make your clothing compliment your dog (do not wear a dark skirt with a dark dog). You want the dog to stand out.

17) How does a Junior Showman qualify for Westminster Dog Show?

You must have ten first-places in the Open Class during the preceding year.  The wins must be with competition.

18) After your 18th birthday, can you ever show in juniors again?

For AKC, the age limit is 18. But if you qualify for Westminster before your 18th birthday you may compete at Westminster.

19) How are Junior Showmanship Classes judged?

The judge is supposed to evaluate the Juniors in 4 different areas: 1-proper breed presentation, 2-skill in presenting the individual dog, 3-knowledge of ring procedures, and 4-appearance and conduct. Some things that a judge looks for are: economy of motion (no over or under handling) and correct breed presentation, do the dog and handler work as a team, is the dog posed and interested at all times, is the dog under control, is the dog moved correctly, are the dogs main faults minimized, are the dog and handler relaxed, does the junior know proper ring procedure, is the dog correctly groomed, and is the handler's appearance suitable?

20) What does a Junior Showman need to know before they go in the ring?

Junior handlers should know all the patterns a judge might ask for, out-and-back (or "I"), a triangle, an "L", a "T" and perhaps a "reverse triangle". Juniors should have a good knowledge of their dogs so they can present the dog correctly, minimizing faults and accentuating strengths. They should know how to stack their dog correctly, as well as bait it. They should know how to show a dog's bite and expression. They should be prepared to do a courtesy turn and also avoid coming between the judge and their dog.

21) How does the Junior Showmanship class proceed?

Junior Showmanship classes proceed in this order: Novice Junior, Novice Senior, Open Junior, and then Open Senior.

22) How should the junior be prepared?

Juniors are usually called in catalogue order. So wait outside the ring with your armband on. When the ring steward calls your number, enter the ring, go to the designated position and stack your dog. Things you should always remember are not to crowd the team in front of you, pay attention to the judge, and don't forget to have FUN!

23) You just won your class, what next?

Now you get to do the whole thing over for Best Junior Handler, and there will only be the division winners in the ring. Do your best, and maybe YOU will win the coveted award.

24) What do I do after I age out?

You may now want to proceed and apply for your license to judge Junior Showmanship.

Revised January 2005: rlm


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