"Winning Westminster was not just a dream come true, it was a passion fulfilled through hard work and the support of many. My advice to other juniors is to take it all in, every win, loss, and experience. Learn all you can and enjoy the friends that surround you in the sport because before you know it...you are all grown up!"
-- Cassandra Clark, Westminster's Best Junior, 1997

"The future of the sport" - another Westminster tradition
By Kate Eldredge

While the Westminster Kennel Club staged its first dog show in 1877, there is one popular feature that was added later that has become a big part of America's Dog Show.

Since 1934, the world has been watching "the future of the sport" perform in what began as the Children's Handling Class, originally established through a partnership with the Professional Handlers Association (PHA). Over that time, the "future of the sport" in fact has become the sport, as the young handlers grow up and eventually end up on center stage with breed, group and even best-in-show winners.

read more

About The Competiton

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.

In 2009, Junior Showmanship Preliminaries will be held in four different sections, all of them on Monday afternoon. The two preliminary judges each judge two sections. They will 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 51 girls and 24 boys; 14 winners have come from New York, 10 from California and nine from Pennsylvania. For a complete listing of winners, see the History and Records section. Occasionally it may be necessary to combine a judge's assignment into one preliminary class rather than two, but if that is the case, four finalists will be selected from that combined class. The overall total number of finalists will still be eight.

2009 Judges

The Junior Showmanship Finals judge for 2009 is Mr. Edmund Dziuk, Columbia, MO.

The Junior Showmanship Preliminary judges for 2009 are Mr. David W. Flanagan, Millbrook, NY and Mr. Nicholas P. Urbanek, Glenshaw, PA.


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.

CONTACT US    MEDIA CENTER    TERMS OF USE    PRIVACY POLICY    PHOTO CREDITS    ©2016 Westminster Kennel Club. All Rights Reserved.