The popularity of Junior Showmanship at The Westminster Kennel Club has endured and flourished since 1934 as an important part of the show and a reflection on its role in the great family sport of showing dogs. The fact that the young people are the future of the sport is never more evident than at Westminster, where participants go on to careers in dogs or to carry on family tradition over generations of children and parents.

In this competition, the young people are judged solely on their handling skills independent of the traits of the dog. But while handling, care and responsible ownership are important lessons of Junior Showmanship, so is learning social skills and sportsmanship, as well as the opportunity to bond with one's dog.

Childrens Handling, as it was called in those early years, was first offered for boys and girls under 15 years of age and judged by members of the Professional Handlers Association. In 1951, it became Junior Showmanship.

Today, young people ages 10-18 from all over the country qualify with ten wins in shows during the previous year, and more than 100 youngsters come to New York in February to compete.

Preliminaries are divided into four different sections, two on Monday afternoon and two on Tuesday afternoon. The two preliminary judges each judge one section each night. They select two young handlers from each section to advance, making a total of eight finalists that meet in the ring for the Best Junior title on Tuesday evening.

Through the years, Best Junior has been won by 49 girls and 22 boys; 14 winners have come from New York, nine from California and eight from Pennsylvania. For a complete listing of winners, see the History and Records section.


To be eligible to enter Junior Showmanship competition in 2005, Juniors must have placed first in TEN (10) or more Open Classes in Junior Showmanship in AKC Licensed or Member Shows held between Nov 29, 2004 through December 4, 2005. Those wins must come from the Junior Showmanship Open Classes and that Open class MUST have competition. This is for ALL shows, including specialties. NOTE: This is an increase in the number of wins required in previous years.


The Junior Showmanship Finals judge for 2006 is Mrs. James Edward Clark of Greenwood, DE.

The Junior Showmanship Preliminary judges for 2006 are Mr. Sam H. McDonald of Chester Springs, PA and Mrs. Bonnie Threlfall of Cary, NC.


The name of each Best Junior Handler will be inscribed on a brass plate that will be affixed to the base of a bronze statue created by Damara Bolte and donated by the Professional Handlers Association. The Bronze, created in memory of professional handler Tom Tobin, is a figure of an Irish Setter trotting on lead beside the footprints of his handler. This piece will be on display at The Westminster Kennel Club show each year.

The Westminster Kennel Club offers at its show, the Leonard Brumby, Sr. Memorial Trophy to the winner of the Junior Handler competition.

The Professional Handlers' Association, Inc. offers an 8" x 10" S.S. Picture Frame to the winner of the Junior Handler competition in memory of Tom Tobin.

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