Junior Showmanship

The AKC sponsors events classes to evaluate the abilities of the participants in a dog show on the other end of the leash...the young handler.
Junior handlers are important to the future of the sport of dogs and responsible dog ownership. The more Juniors learn, the more valuable they become. The values, attitudes and responsibility learned through Junior Showmanship will serve pre-teens and teenagers throughout their lives. By putting time and effort into learning about their dog and how to present it, Juniors are rewarded with a win. Shih Tzu are coated dogs, and Juniors must learn how to groom their dog for ring presentation. A wonderful benefit that comes out of Junior Showmanship is the possibility of future careers as professional handlers and/or groomers.
Junior Showmanship classes are open to young people from 10 to 18 years old and are divided into Novice and Open classes.
Novice classes are for those who at the time entries close, have not won three first place awards in a Novice class at a licensed or member show. The Novice Class gives young beginners a change to gain experience and confidence separate from the more experienced Juniors.
Open classes are for Juniors who have three or more first place wins. A beginner can learn how to better present their dog by watching the more experienced Juniors in the ring.
Juniors are judged on their ability to present or handle their dogs within the same formats and guidelines as those handlers who compete in the breed ring. The big difference is the quality of Juniors presentations, not their dogs, are judged. Juniors are encouraged to develop their handling abilities, dress appropriately, conduct themselves in a proper manner, and present their dogs  in a well groomed condition.
All dogs handled by Juniors must be eligible to compete in dog shows, agility or obedience trials. The dog must be owned by the Junior, a member of the Junior's family or a member of their household. Many times Junior Showmanship classes are free (if the dog is entered in regular classes) or are offered at a reduced rate.

The best way for prospective Junior handlers to see what is involved in Junior handling is to watch the Junior Showmanship classes at a show. This presents an opportunity to see how young people take part at all levels of competition, how they have developed friendships, and have learned to compete, and accept their wins and losses in a gracious manner.
Talk to these young participants. You will be impressed by their knowledge, attitudes and willingness to share their experiences with someone new to the sport.
Another way to learn the basics is at your local Shih Tzu Club. Many clubs offer weekly handling classes. These informal sessions are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere and afford both dog and handler an opportunity to practice in a setting similar to an actual show.  
For more information on the Rules and Regulations for Junior Showmanship email the AKC  at info@akc.org Go to the geographical list of Shih Tzu clubs to see if there is a Shih Tzu breed club in your area.

FAQ's About Junior Showmanship

  • 1. How do I join the AKC Junior Organization?
Everyone who has a Junior Showmanship number is automatically entered in the AKC Junior Organization.
2. How do I get a Junior Showmanship number?

Call the AKC at 919-854-0195 and leave your name, address, and birth date on the tape.
3. What is a Junior Showmanship Number and do I need to have one to compete in AKC J.S. Shows?

A number you use when you enter an event. The number is used to track your wins, and see if you qualify for certain events like Westminster and to compile national rankings. So, yes you do need a number to compete in AKC shows.
4.How do I find out about shows?

Go to http://www.akc.org/dic/events/search/index.cfm
5.What age is eligible to apply as a Junior Showmanship Only Judge?

You must be at least 18.
6.Is there a minimum age for Judging Juniors at a match?

There is no minimum age for judging Juniors at a match. If you have substantial experience and would feel comfortable, and have been invited to judge, then it is okay.
7. What kind of lead is best?

Use a nylon slip lead on a Shih Tzu. These are show leads and can be purchased at a dog show.
8. How do I learn to show my dog?
Attend Shih Tzu handling classes given by your local club. Watch experienced breeders
and handlers show Shih Tzu or ask a professional Shih Tzu handler for some pointers 
when they have some free time.
Attend Shih Tzu handling classes given by your local club. Watch experienced breeders and handlers show Shih Tzu or ask a professional Shih Tzu handler for some pointers when they have some free time.