Junior Showmanship competition is for children ages 9-18 years of age. 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.
These young handlers must demonstrate breed knowledge in presentation of the dog as well as economy of motion. The judge is considering how well the handlers present their dogs with regard to control, teamwork as well as composure and unexaggerated movement. The goal for the Juniors, like the best adult handlers, is to enhance their dog’s qualities to the judge without using distracting, unnecessary motions.
Junior Showmanship at Westminster
Since 1934 the Westminster Kennel Club has offered Junior Showmanship competition (formerly known as Children’s Handling class). Today Junior Showmanship at Westminster is a limited class for young people who have won Best Junior Handler awards seven times or more at AKC Licensed or Member shows in a certain time period. The competition has a preliminary judging round where nearly 100 Juniors from across the US are judged with 8 Finalists being selected to move on to the finals competition.
The finals competition held at Madison Square Garden, finishes with one handler being awarded Best Junior Handler with following 2nd, 3rd and 4th placements. Since 2010, the Westminster Kennel Club has offered Junior Showmanship Finalist Scholarship Awards to the eight finalists at the show: First place $10,000, Second place $5,000, Third place $4,000, and Fourth place $3,000. Each of the other Finalists receive a $500 scholarship award. The scholarships are for their use in post-secondary schooling for the college or technical school of their choice.
Additionally, the Best Junior Handler is awarded The Leonard Brumby, Sr. Memorial Trophy donated by the Professional Handlers Association in 1949. Mr. Brumby created the competition for young people in the late 1920’s, with the first AKC Children’s Handling class occurring in 1932.