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You will find Junior Handling classes scheduled at most dog shows in the USA, from the small Companion show to the biggest Championship show.

In Junior Handling it is the skill of the handler which is being judged, not the dog.

Children aged between 9 and 18 present their dogs to the judge, to the best of their ability. The judge will decide after assessing each and every handler what the placings, in his/her opinion, should be.

Normally the classes are split in :

-Junior: At least 9 years old but under 12 years old on the day of the show.

-Intermediate: At least 12 years old but under 15 years old on the day of the show.

-Senior: At least 15 years old but under 18 years old on the day of the show.

All the rules and regulations how to be a Junior handler you can find on AKC site


A normal class is judged as follows:

  • The steward calls the class in so handlers enter the ring with their dogs and are given their ring number.
  • Handlers set up their dogs at the side of the ring.
  • The judge will walk down the line to get first impressions.
  • The first handler in the line gets ready on the table or the floor (depending on the size of the breed) to be assessed individually.
  • The judge will ‘go over’ the dog. He/she will usually ask the handler to show the dogs teeth and may ask a question about the dogs basic anatomy or the breed history.
  • The judge will then ask the handler to do a pattern. (May ask for just one or sometimes two put together.) This is where both dog and handler have to move in a shape using all of the ring without breaking the golden rule.
  • The most common patterns are: straight up and down, triangle, circle or round the ring, ‘T’, or ‘L’.
  • After the pattern is complete, the handler will move to the end of the line and the judge will then move onto the next handler in the line.
  • After all handlers and their dogs have been seen in the class, the judge may walk down the ‘lineup’ once again to make his/her final decision.
  • The judge will then pick out his winner, then second, third and fourth.-
  • Handlers who have not won a prize at this point leave the ring. The winners stay lined up in the centre of the ring and receives their prizes.

The judge will also be looking for proficiency in the following areas:

-Presentation. This is what the handler is wearing, and whether the dog is clean, brushed and trimmed.

-Rapport. This is the vibe between the handler and the dog, the dog should listen to the handlers instructions and they must move together in harmony.

-Technique. When on the move straight lines, tight corners and a suitable pace for your breed are needed here when executing patterns.

-Balance. This means that both handler and their dog should be standing evenly and moving straight


At most dog shows the winner of each class compete against each other and the judge will pick an overall winner. This youngster would normally be called the Best Junior Handler.


These are the most important things to remember when competing in Junior Handling:

  • Always handle your dog in a calm and gently manner.
  • Enjoy it.
  • “Win with pride but lose with dignity.”


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