"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.

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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 9-18 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 2010, Junior Showmanship Preliminaries will be held in four different sections, two on Monday afternoon and two on Tuesday 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 52 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.

Eligibility Requirements For 2010 Show

Junior Showmanship is a limited class. Juniors who have won 10 or more Firsts in the Open Classes for Junior Showmanship (competition required) at AKC Licensed or Member shows held between November 1, 2008 - October 31, 2009 (inclusive) and who were at least 9 years of age and under 18 years of age at the time of the wins, are invited to enter the Junior Showmanship Limited Class at this show. Each eligible Junior will receive a Certificate of Eligibility, along with a blank entry form and return envelope. Only those Juniors whose names appear on this list are eligible for entry into this show. If a dog is entered in breed and Juniors and the breed limit is reached the valid Junior portion of the entry is still acceptable.

2010 Judges

The Junior Showmanship Finals judge for 2010 is Mrs. Jennifer Pahl, Princess Anne, MD.

The Junior Showmanship Preliminary judges for 2010 are Ms. Patricia Anne Keenan, Chicago, IL and Mr. Robert L. Vandiver, Simpsonville, SC.


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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