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Junior Showmanship at Westminster

Junior Showmanship At Westminster

Since 1934, the Westminster Kennel Club has bestowed the title of Best Junior Handler to one deserving youngster. These talented handlers come from all across the country to be judged on their dog handling skills with eight advancing to the finals competition held at Madison Square Garden. These dedicated dog lovers spend countless hours training, grooming, and perfecting their ring techniques throughout the year to qualify for a chance to show at Westminster. Approximately 100 qualified juniors annually make their way to New York City for the most prestigious junior handling competition in the sport. The Westminster Kennel Club congratulates these juniors for their continued involvement and future success in the sport of purebred dogs and beyond.

See the full list of 2021 Junior Handler Winners and the Junior Showmanship Records.

Junior Showmanship 101

What is Junior Showmanship?
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. Handling, care and responsible dog ownership are important aspects of Junior Showmanship as well as learning social skills, sportsmanship, and the opportunity to bond with one’s dog.

How is Junior Showmanship judged?
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.

What is 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 dog shows in a certain time period. The competition has a preliminary judging round held at the Piers where more than 100 Juniors from across the country are judged with eight finalists being selected to move on to the Finals competition.

What can I expect to see in the Finals competition?
The Finals competition held at Madison Square Garden brings the eight finalists together for one more round of competition. The first place winner is crowned Best Junior Handler followed by a  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.

What breeds are eligible to compete in Junior Showmanship?
All purebred dogs registered with the American Kennel Club are eligible to compete in Junior Showmanship. You may see dogs from the 209 AKC recognized breeds representing each of the seven groups, from Affenpinschers to Vizslas.


Where are they now?