A.S.S.A JUNIOR HANDLING GUIDE
A RESOURCE FOR JUNIORS AND THEIR FAMILIES
1: A Brief History of Junior Showmanship
2: A.K.C. Junior FAQs
3: Getting Started in Junior Showmanship
4: A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Regulations - A Guide to Junior Showmanship
5: A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Regulations - Junior
Showmanship Judging Guidelines
6: A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Regulations - A Guide to
7: A.K.C. Junior Recognition Program
8: A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Scholarship Program
9: Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard
10: A.S.S.A. Best Junior
11: Careers in Dogs
A Brief History of Junior Showmanship
Part of the mission
of the American Kennel Club is to "Take whatever actions necessary to protect
and assure the continuation of the sport of purebred dogs." The A.K.C.'s Junior
Showmanship Program is just one example of the kennel club's commitment to
fulfilling this portion of its charter statement.
In the late 1920's a group of dog show exhibitors led by Mr.
Leonard Brumby, Sr., decided to develop a special competition for children. The
purpose of the competition would be to introduce a new generation of fanciers to
the sport and to give children the opportunity to measure their skills against
those of their peers. The children would be judged by how well they presented
their dogs with respect to the nuances of the breed being shown. The first
Children's Handling class was held at the Westbury Kennel Association show of
1932, and quickly became a popular feature at other A.K.C. events.
In 1949 the Professional Handlers Association donated a trophy
in honor and memory of Mr. Brumby to the winner of the Children's Handling
Classes at the Westminster Kennel Club show. This trophy is still awarded to the
winner of the Junior Handler competition at Westminster and is the most
sought-after prize in the sport.
Children's Handling classes were very informal when the program began. The
judging of the classes would normally start whenever the first breed ring became
available. The judges were usually professional handlers themselves, and the
participants were allowed to use any dog that was available to them.
In 1951 the name of the competition was changed from Children's
Handling to Junior Showmanship. Twenty years later, in 1971, the American Kennel
Club recognized the virtues of Junior Handler competition and granted official
recognition for these classes at A.K.C. events.
The Junior Showmanship program has grown and changed in dramatic
fashion since its humble beginnings in 1932. The A.K.C. now has guidelines for
participation and adjudication of this event. For example, juniors must be
between 9 and 18 years of age to participate. They must win three first
placements in the Novice class before advancing to the Open class. Judges must
be approved by the A.K.C. to judge Junior classes, and the dogs that the junior
handlers exhibit must be owned by them, a member of their family, or a relative.
In 1999 the Junior Showmanship program was expanded to include
performance events. Currently, a Junior Handler that handles a dog to a
performance title will receive a certificate from the A.K.C. acknowledging this
The American Kennel Club also awards Scholarships to deserving
Junior Handlers to encourage them to continue on with their education. The A.K.C.
awarded 38 Junior Handler Scholarships in 2002. The Board of the American Kennel
Club has just increased the Junior Scholarship Fund from $60,000 to $100,000.
This can truly be seen as affirmation of the A.K.C.'s commitment to the youth of
Junior handlers become ineligible to compete in Junior
Showmanship classes at the age of 18. In most cases, their participation in the
sport of purebred dog does not cease once they have "aged out" of competition.
From the ranks of Junior Handlers we find the future breeders, A.K.C. Club
Members, approved judges and Registered Handlers who will be the caretakers of
our sport in the future. We see many of these kids go on to pursue careers as
veterinarians. One former Junior is now the CEO of the Orthopedic Foundation for
Animals; others have gone on to serve as Board Members of the American Kennel
Club. Still others have gone onto make their contribution to the sport as A.K.C.
While the Junior Showmanship program itself has gone through
changes, the concept and reasons for its implementation have remained the same:
to encourage participation in the sport by young purebred dog enthusiasts; to
teach good sportsmanship, win or lose; and to educate the next generation of the
A.K.C. Junior FAQs
1. How do I join the A.K.C. Junior Organization?
Everyone who has a
Junior Showmanship number is automatically entered in the A.K.C. National Junior
2. What is a Junior Showmanship Number and do I need to have one to compete in
A Junior Showmanship
Number is a number you use when you enter an event. It is used to track your
wins, and determine eligibility for Open once three firsts with competition has
been earned. In Performance Events your Junior number is linked to the dog's
results to recognize your handling the dog to a title.
3. How do I get a Junior Showmanship number?
Call 919-816-3776 and
leave your name, address and birth date. E-mail: email@example.com or use A.K.C.’s
on-line Junior Showmanship Request Form
do I find out about shows?
Juniors can look in
the Events Calendar, which is delivered along with the A.K.C. Gazette or on the
A.K.C. Website (http://www.akc.org), to see which shows are holding Junior
Showmanship as well as all Performance Events.
5. Who is eligible for Conformation Junior Showmanship Competition?
Effective January 1,
2005 any boy or girl who is at least 9 years old and under the 18 years of age
the day of the show.
6. How do I move up from a Novice class to an Open class?
Juniors can move into
the Open class once they have won 3 first place awards in a Novice class.
Competition must be present in all 3 Novice classes in order for the Junior to
7. What does Amateur Class mean in reference to Junior Showmanship?
As of January 1, 2000
any individual who is listed as an agent is not eligible to compete in Junior
Showmanship, nor any person who distributes rate cards otherwise advertises
themselves as handling dogs for pay in the show ring, or accepts payment for
8. Will a Junior lose amateur status if they work for a professional handler?
Junior Showmanship is
intended to encourage Juniors to learn how to care for and present different
breeds. Part of the educational process could include apprenticeship or
assisting professional handlers. Juniors may take their employers' dogs into the
ring while still retaining amateur status.
9. What if I don't own a purebred dog? Can I show someone else's?
Each dog must be
owned by the Junior Handler or by the Junior Handler's father, mother, brother,
sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother, including the corresponding
step and half relations, or by a member of the Junior Handler's household.
10. What dogs are eligible to show in Juniors?
To enter a dog in a
Conformation Junior Showmanship Class it must be eligible for entry in an A.K.C.
Dog Show or Obedience Trial. This includes dogs that have Indefinite Listing
Privileges (ILP) or Limit Registration status.
11. Can a Junior handler show a spayed or neutered dog in Junior Showmanship
Yes. A spayed or
neutered dog is not eligible for conformation competition, but it is eligible
for obedience competition; therefore it can be handled in Junior Showmanship
12. My dog that was entered is unable to go to the show, can I substitute?
One substitution per
show is allowed. The dog must meet the same eligibility requirements as the
entered dog. The substitution must be accompanied by an official A.K.C. entry
form including the substituted dog's A.K.C. registration number. The
substitution must be made at least one half hour prior to the judging of any
Junior Showmanship Classes.
13. How do I learn to show my dog?
There are several
ways to learn to show a dog, and probably a combination of all of these would
provide for the most well rounded experience. You may attend breed handling
classes given by your local kennel club. You could watch experienced breeders
and handlers show your breed at a show, or you could ask a professional handler
that shows your breed for some pointers when they have some free time. Beyond
that practice, practice, practice.
14. Is there a special juniors class for Performance Events?
There is not a
special class, however Juniors are recognized for competing in all the
Performance Events. The junior will enter the dog in the class in which it would
normally compete for the event. In each of these events the dogs are scored
individually on their performance. A Junior handling a dog to a Performance
title will receive a certificate and a specially designed pin. The Junior is to
obtain the Certification forms, fill it out and have the judge sign it.
15. How does a Junior record their participation in Performance Events?
It is the
responsibility of the Junior to have a Junior Handler certification form filled
out and signed by the judge on the day of the event. One copy is sent in with
the judge's book and the Junior should keep one copy.
16. How do I get the Junior Handler Certification forms?
They may be obtained
from the Show Secretary, Superintendent, Field Representative, or by contacting the American Kennel Club.
17. How old must you be to be eligible to apply as a Junior Showmanship Only Judge?
You must be 18 years
old to be eligible to apply as a Junior Showmanship Judge.
18. Is there a minimum age for Judging Juniors at a match show?
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.
19. How do you obtain the Junior Newsletter?
The Junior Newsletter
is now and e-newsletter. You must sign up to receive it. Past issues
are archived online.
20. If a Junior is entered in the wrong class for their age, can the Junior change
the entry after it has closed?
Yes. This transfer
must be made at least one-half hour prior to the judging of any Junior
Showmanship class at the show.
21. If a Junior from a Novice class of one wins Best Junior Handler at a show, does
this win count towards moving towards the Open classes?
No. Only wins in
either the Novice Junior, Intermediate, or Senior classes with competition will
Getting Started in Junior Showmanship
The American Kennel
Club licenses dogs shows (competitive exhibitions in which dogs are judged in
accordance with an established standard of perfection for each breed) that test
and evaluate the form and function of purebred dogs. In addition, at some shows
the A.K.C. offers classes which evaluate the abilities of the participant on the
other end of the lead, the young handler.
A.K.C. Junior Showmanship classes offer youngsters the
1. Develop their
2. Learn about good sportsmanship
3. Learn about dogs and dog shows.
Join the world of
A.K.C. Junior Showmanship!
Juniors are important to the future of the sport of dogs and
responsible dog ownership, and the more they learn, the more valuable they
become. The values, attitudes and responsibility learned through Junior
Showmanship will serve youngsters well throughout their lives. By putting time
and effort into learning about their dog and how to present it, juniors are
rewarded with a win.
Who may participate
Junior Showmanship classes are open to children from 9 to 18 years old and
are divided into Novice and Open classes: All participants in Junior Showmanship
classes must have an A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Handler Number.
Novice classes are for those children who, at the time entries close, have not
won three (3) first-place awards in a Novice class at a licensed or member show.
To qualify as a win, more than one child must be in competition in a class. The
Novice class gives those children who are beginners a chance to gain experience
and confidence apart from the more seasoned youngsters. Open classes are for
those children having three or more first-place wins; these are the more
experienced Junior Handlers. A beginner can learn how to present their dog more
effectively by watching these talented youngsters in the ring.
The classes may
further be divided into:
- 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.
Juniors are judged on their ability to present, or handle, their
dogs within the same formats and guidelines as those who compete in the breed
ring. The quality of their presentation, not the dog, is judged. Juniors are
encouraged to develop their handling abilities, dress appropriately, conduct
themselves in a proper manner, and present their dog in a well-groomed
What about the dog?
Any dog entered must be eligible to compete in dog shows or
obedience trials. The dog must be owned by the child, a member of the child's
family or member of his household. Many times junior showmanship classes are
free (if the dog is entered in regular classes) or are offered at the reduced
How to get started
The best way for prospective junior handlers to see what is
involved in junior handling is to watch the Junior Showmanship classes at a dog
show. They will see how children 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 in our
sport. You will be impressed by their knowledge, attitudes and their willingness
to share their experiences with someone new to the sport. Another way to learn
the basics is at your local dog 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
In order to receive Premium Lists (which detail date, location
and judges of all classes at a particular show) for shows in your area, visit
the Superintendent's office at any show. Or subscribe to the A.K.C. Gazette and you will receive, as a part of your subscription, the Events Calendar, a
monthly supplement which lists all the A.K.C. events held throughout the
Junior Showmanship Regulations - A Guide to Junior Showmanship Competition for
Section 1. Amateur
An individual listed as an agent is not eligible to compete in Juniors, nor any
person who distributes rate cards or otherwise advertises themselves as handling
dogs for pay in the show ring, or accepts payment for handling dogs.
"Participation in Junior Showmanship is intended to encourage Juniors to learn
how to care for and present different breeds. Part of the educational process
could include apprenticeship or assisting professional handlers. Junior may take
their employers' dogs into the ring while still retaining amateur status."
Juniors are important to the sport of dogs. Juniors who learn about good
sportsmanship, dogs, handling and dog shows will be valuable to the sport in the
future. Junior Showmanship classes are offered at most dog shows. These classes
are held so that young people can:
winning and losing among those who are similar in age.
- Learn the correct
way to handle the breed they own.
- Practice handling
skills in competition.
- Improve the way
they handle their own dog.
- Prepare for
handling dogs in the regular classes.
Junior Showmanship classes are judged on the ability of the Junior to handle his
or her dog. The quality of the dog is not judged. Juniors will be asked to
- Moving the dog
with the rest of the class.
- Presenting the
dog in the standing position proper to its breed (including the use of an
examining table for those breeds normally judged on a table).
- Moving the dog
individually in a regular pattern.
Juniors are expected to know basic ring routines. They should be able to follow
directions, use space wisely, and be familiar with gaiting patterns. Juniors
should appear "ring wise," alert to what is going on in the ring, and should be
prepared for changes in the routine of judging.
JUNIORS MUST BE ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR DOGS AT ALL TIMES. Any Junior who cannot
control his or her dog will be excused by the judge.
Section 5. Appearance and Conduct.
Juniors should be clean, neat, and well-groomed. They should wear clothing that
is comfortable to handle in and appropriate for dog shows. Clothing should not
distract, limit or hinder the judge's view of the dog.
Dogs should be groomed and trimmed as they would be for the breed ring. Judges
will not evaluate the quality of the grooming and trimming, but Juniors should
make an effort to prepare their dogs properly. Unnecessary grooming of the dog
in the ring to gain attention is not proper conduct. Juniors should appear
confident, prepared, business-like and attentive. They should be courteous to
both the judge and other Juniors. Juniors are expected to handle their dogs
without disturbing the dogs of the other Juniors. Juniors should not crowd and
they should not distract others by continued use of toys and bait. Juniors
should be alert to the needs of their dogs. They should use firm but thoughtful
hands in controlling and handling their dogs. Juniors should not be impatient or
Section 6. Conflicts.
Juniors may have a conflict between the Judging of their Junior Showmanship
class and conformation judging or another event. In this instance the Junior
will have to make a decision as to where they will compete. A Junior may enter
the Junior Showmanship class up until the time every Junior in the class has
been examined and gaited. If a Junior starts to compete in the Junior class and
requests to be excused to go exhibit in conformation or another event, he or she
is permanently excused.
Juniors will be judged on their ability to present their dogs in the same way
the dog is properly handled in the breed ring. Juniors will also be judged on
their ability to make their individual dog look its best in both pose and
motion. During all parts of the competition Juniors should handle their dogs in
a quiet, smooth, efficient manner. Juniors should strive to make the DOG stand
out as the most important part of the team effort.
Junior handlers should:
- Keep their dog's
attention without using dramatic or unnecessary movements.
- Gait their dogs
in a controlled trot without distracting or interfering with the judge's
view of the dog. Be aware of what is going on in the ring.
- Concentrate on
their dog and not the judge.
- Junior handlers
who use exaggerated posture, motions or gestures in any part of the
competition will be faulted.
There are many ways Juniors can find help in learning about Junior Showmanship
and handling their own dogs. In addition to the help of parents, Juniors may
seek the advice of experienced breeder-exhibitors, professional handlers,
handling instructors, and former Juniors. They may also learn from the A.K.C.
breed videocassettes, books on handling, books on individual breeds, and by
observing breed and group judging at dog shows.
Section 10. Substitution.
Juniors are limited to the substitution of one dog per show. The junior must
have the A.K.C. number of the substitute dog.
Junior Showmanship Regulations - Junior Showmanship Judging Guidelines
Section 1. Definition
Junior Showmanship classes are non-regular classes which are judged solely on
the ability and skill of Juniors in handling their dogs as in the breed ring.
The purpose of Junior Showmanship Competition is twofold: to introduce and
encourage Juniors to participate in the sport of dogs; and to provide Juniors
with a meaningful competition in which they can learn, practice, and improve in
all areas of handling skill and sportsmanship. It is important that judges of
Junior Showmanship Competition understand the definition and purpose of these
classes and take seriously their role in guiding the future guardians of the
sport. JUDGES ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE A GENUINE INTEREST IN JUNIORS AND IN JUNIOR
Section 2. Limited Status Junior Showmanship Judge.
Limited Status will allow the individual to judge Juniors only at a
Specialty show of a breed they are approved to judge. Limit Status Judges may
not judge Juniors at specialties for breeds they are not approved to judge, nor
may they judge Juniors at all breed shows.
Section 3. Prerequisites for Judges.
(See Page 1, Section 4) Those who judge Junior Showmanship must be familiar with
the Junior Showmanship Rules and Regulations as well as all other Rules and
Policies that apply to all judges. The occupational eligibility requirements in Chapter 7, Section 1, of
the Rules Applying to Dog Shows would apply to Junior Showmanship
Judges, except that a professional handler may be approved. The Guidelines for
Conformation Dog Show Judges apply to individuals approved to judge
Junior Showmanship and it is therefore necessary to be thoroughly versed in
Judges must complete all provisional requirements for Breed or Junior
Showmanship. They shall have demonstrated successfully their ability to conduct
their ring in a consistent, businesslike and safe manner that will instill
confidence in exhibitors and spectators. A Procedural Report for the Judging of
Junior Showmanship will be used by the Field Representative to discuss any
recommendations or procedural deficiencies and submitted to the judge's file.
Continuation of deficiencies may result in changing the approval status to Limit
Section 4. Responsibilities of the Junior Showmanship Judge.
It is important for judges to be teachers by example. They should be prompt,
courteous, patient and properly attired. Judges must be impartial and totally
separate the handling ability of the Juniors they judge from any other
consideration. As a judge of Juniors at an all breed event it is essential to be
familiar with the appropriate presentation for every breed. Impartiality extends
to eliminating from the judging process bias for or against the breed handled,
friendships, external knowledge of a Junior's record of competition, or prior
knowledge or assumption of the dog's training or preparation.
Judges should never solicit or offer to judge Junior Showmanship. No assignment
should be taken which does not meet the time and distance requirements of 200
miles and 30 days as set forth in the Guidelines for Judges.
Chapter 11, Section 13,
of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows would not apply to individuals
approved to judge Junior Showmanship Only. However, if Junior Showmanship Judges
plan to exhibit or handle dogs at a show, or if dogs owned by them are to be
entered, the judge should not attend pre-show social functions with other judges
for that show or attend the judges' luncheon the day of the show.
If a Junior co-owns a dog with a judge, the dog may be entered in Junior
Showmanship Only, at an event where the judge is judging classes other than
Section 5. Safety.
Juniors with varying degrees of experience and dogs with great differences in
size, temperament and training need safe ring conditions. Judges must make every
effort to ensure the safety of the Juniors and their dogs during competition.
Judges should arrange or rearrange competitors in order of gaiting speed or size
of dog to avoid crowding and instruct Juniors to leave adequate space between
themselves and the Junior in front of or behind them. Moving two dogs together
(side by side) is discouraged as is any pattern which places any dog in close
proximity to other dogs when lead control is at a minimum, e.g., on a loose
lead, etc. In large classes judges should admit only as many Juniors into the
ring as can be safely examined. Never hesitate to divide any class for any
reason where the safety of the individuals or the dogs is involved. Likewise, do
not hesitate to excuse from the ring any dog which is out of control, lame or
which is otherwise ineligible to compete. Any dog showing signs of menacing or
threatening behavior should be excused immediately. Any dog that attacks any
individual in the ring shall be disqualified in accordance with Chapter 11, Section 8A,
of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows. In the case of a disqualification
the judge must inform the Junior that the dog is not eligible to be exhibited
again at any A.K.C. event, and complete the necessary form for Disqualifying a
dog for attacking. Advise the Junior to speak with the A.K.C. Field
Representative about the reinstatement policy.
Section 6. Judging Routine.
The actual routine of judging is to be consistent with the procedures utilized
when judging conformation. The number of Juniors, size of the ring, ring
conditions, weather and time of day will influence the actual procedures used.
Judges will strive to evaluate competitors in an appropriate and consistent
manner. It is essential that only the gaiting patterns and procedures used in
regular dog show classes be used.
It is the responsibility of the judge to be aware of the appropriate
presentation for all breeds, which is to include knowledge of which breeds are
normally examined on a table. Upon request, the Superintendent will provide the
list of breeds entered in Junior Showmanship.
It is urged that the judge request each Junior to present their dog individually
for examination, allowing the judge to observe the rapport between the junior
and the dog while being set up on either the ground or the table. Judges should
ask the Junior to show the dog's bite, although with younger Juniors judges
should use their discretion. The procedure for completing the examination of the
dogs should closely resemble that of breed judging but need only be cursory as
the quality of the dog is not being evaluated. Judges should be consistent with
every Junior, using the same gaiting patterns, the same procedural requests, and
allowing each Junior approximately the same amount of time. Judges may revise
the gaiting patterns when making final decisions. A judge should not confuse the
ability of a Junior to take directions with the Junior's ability to handle his
dog. Some freedom of expression and expertise should be allowed.
Judges should consider how their own movements in the ring might precipitate
awkward and unusual handling results. For example, when examining the class as a
whole in motion, the judge should be inside the circle; and when examining a
class of standing or posed dogs the judge should not move from one side of the
line to the other, creating unnecessary movements.
Judges should limit conversation with Juniors during competition to that which
is absolutely necessary. However, judges should be prepared to answer Juniors'
questions following judging and be able to provide positive comments and
constructive criticism. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD QUESTIONS BE USED AS A
MEANS OF TESTING A JUNIOR'S KNOWLEDGE. A suggestion: Should the Junior ask for
comments following the judging, ask them to return with their dog, time
permitting, and review their presentation.
Section 7. Conflicts.
A Junior may have a conflict with their dog in another class. The judge may
allow a Junior to enter the ring up until the time they have examined and gaited
every dog in the class.
Should a Junior request to be excused to go show in another ring, they are
permanently excused and may not return.
Section 8. Judge's Examination and Evaluation.
The judge should examine and evaluate the class of Juniors in four basic areas:
proper breed presentation, skill in the individual dog's presentation, knowledge
of ring procedures, and appearance and conduct. The general rule in evaluating a
handler's capabilities is ECONOMY OF MOTION. Handlers who use exaggerated
motions and gestures in any phase of their presentation of the dog should be
faulted. In essence, the judge should hardly be aware of the capable handler's
presence while completing the dog's examination. In many respects a Junior
Showmanship judge's principal consideration should be to find those Juniors who
possess a "hand for dogs." Those handlers having this attribute neither over-
nor under-handle their dogs. They present their dogs in a quiet, efficient
manner. They are able to keep their dog's attention without dramatic or
unnatural movements. They are able to gait their dogs in a collected trot, never
distracting or interfering with the judge's vision of the dog.
Breed Presentation. While the judge must consider all areas important in
evaluating the overall capabilities of Juniors, it is doubly important both that
the Junior present his dog in the proper manner for the breed being handled and
that the judge be cognizant of the proper presentation for that breed. It is
imperative, therefore, that the judge have prior knowledge of the breeds which
are to be presented and familiarity with the proper ways of handling those
breeds. If the Show Superintendent or Show Secretary does not furnish a list of
those breeds in the Judging Program, then the judge should request the list well
in advance of the show date. In the individual presentation of the dog the
Junior should demonstrate the ability to handle the dog as it is handled in the
breed ring, showing the dog to its best advantage in pose and in motion. During
all phases of handling the Junior's concentration should be on the dog and not
on the judge, but not to the extent that the Junior is unaware of what is taking
place in the ring. Remember, you are judging the handler, but time should be
spent looking at the dog to gain insight as to how well it is being handled.
- Is the dog
responsive to the handler? Do dog and handler work as a team?
- Does the dog
appear posed or interested at all times?
- Is the dog under
- Is the dog moved
correctly to the best of its ability?
- Are the dog's
main faults being minimized?
- Do both the dog
and handler appear relaxed?
- Is the dog
presented with an apparent minimum of effort?
Knowledge of Ring
Procedure. The judge shall evaluate the ability of the Junior to follow directions, use
space wisely, and execute the requested gaiting patterns. Juniors should appear
"ring wise,'' be alert to the judging progression and be prepared for changes in
the judging routine.
Appearance and Conduct. The judge should be aware of the appearance of
both the handler and the dog. The Junior should be suitably dressed for the
occasion, wearing clothing that will not hinder or detract from the presentation
of the dog. The dog should be groomed and trimmed in the manner associated with
the breed for conformation. However, the judge should not evaluate either the
dress of the handler or the grooming of the dog, but rather that an effort has
been made. Excessive grooming of the dog in the ring to gain the judge's
attention is inappropriate and should be faulted accordingly.
The judge shall evaluate the general conduct of Juniors in the ring. Juniors
should appear prepared, confident, businesslike and attentive. They should be
courteous to both the judge and their fellow exhibitors. Juniors are expected to
handle their dogs without distracting the dogs of other competitors, and a
Junior who crowds or disturbs other dogs should be faulted. A principle of
Junior Showmanship is to afford the opportunity to learn the spirit of
competition. Winning is important but is secondary to development of
sportsmanship in competition. Judges who reward unsportsmanlike conduct or
actions, regardless of a handler's other capabilities, compromise the very
premise of Junior Showmanship.
Juniors should be alert to the needs of their dogs, realizing that the welfare
of their dogs is important. Juniors are responsible for the control of their
dogs at all times. However, Juniors who exhibit impatience or heavy-handedness
with their dogs should be penalized.
Section 9. The Judges Book.
After the final placings have been made in each class, judges must mark their
books indicating their placements. After all classes have been judged and all
placements marked, including absentees and excusals, the book must be signed and
returned to the Superintendent or Show Secretary. The judge has the sole
responsibility for his book, for its correctness and for its safekeeping. He
should take proper care in the recording of armband numbers of his winners,
seeing they are in the right place and clearly legible. The safekeeping of the
book should be entrusted to no one except him/herself.
Junior Showmanship Regulations - A Guide to Performance Events Competition for
Eligibility as a Junior.
Any Junior up to the age of 18 is eligible to compete as a Junior in Performance
Events. The Junior must obtain a Junior Number. The ownership requirements are
the same as for participating in Conformation Junior Showmanship: the dog must
be owned by the Junior Handler or the Junior Handler's father, mother, brother,
sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, or grandmother, including corresponding step
and half relations, or by a member of the Junior Handler's household.
Section 2. Classes.
The Junior will enter the dog in the class in which it would normally compete
for the event. In each of these events the dogs are scored individually on their
performance. A Junior will not receive credit for any qualifying scores in a
class in which the dog has already successfully completed a title, with the
exception of the Retriever Hunting Tests.
Section 3. Records.
The dog's score in these events will be linked to the Junior Handler's number
through the use of the Junior Certification Form. This form can be obtained from
the Show Secretary, Superintendent or Field Representative, or by contacting the
American Kennel Club. (See the end of this section for a sample.) It is the
responsibility of the Junior to have the Junior Certification Form filled out
and signed by the judge on the day of the event for any qualifying score. The
judge will retain one copy to be mailed in with his/her judge's book to the
American Kennel Club while returning the other to the Junior.
Section 4. Awards.
The American Kennel Club will acknowledge any Junior who successfully completes
a title. The Junior must have been the handler of record for all qualifying
scores leading to the title in that event. All qualifying scores and titles must
have been completed after January 1, 1999.
A.K.C. Junior Recognition Program
Since the Junior Recognition Program began in January 1999, recognizing Juniors
who obtain titles on dogs in the Companion and Performance Events, dozens of
certificates have been issued to Juniors.
The majority of certificates have been issued for dogs with titles in Obedience
and Agility. However, we have many Juniors participating and working towards
titles in all of the events, including Hunt Tests and Field Trials, Earthdog,
Lure Coursing and Herding.
The biggest shortfall we have encountered is that the completed Junior Handler
certification forms are not being received in the A.K.C. Event Records
department and therefore, the dogs' records are not being updated to indicate
that a Junior handled the dog. Many juniors who have met the criteria to receive
a certificate have not because of lost/misplaced paperwork. The A.K.C. Event
Record and Judges Education Departments now have the ability to update a dog's
record to include the junior handler's number, even after the event has been
We strongly urge Juniors to keep records of their wins, titles, legs, etc., and
to maintain their copy of the Junior Handler Certification forms. In the event
that the original yellow form is not received by the A.K.C., we will accept a
copy of the Junior's copy.
Title certificates for dogs are processed by the A.K.C.'s computer system.
Junior Recognition certificates are processed manually, and therefore, will be
issued after the dog's certificate has been issued. If you come across a Junior
who has not received their certificate, please have them call us at (919)
816-3776. We will be happy to review the Junior's record and the dog's record to
determine which forms are missing. Junior Handler Numbers can also be assigned
immediately over the phone (during business hours) at the above phone number.
Copies of missing or late Junior Handler Certification forms can be mailed to:
5580 Centerview Drive
phone: (919) 816-3776
Supplies of blank Junior Handler Certification forms can also be obtained from
the above address or phone number.
A.K.C. Junior Showmanship Scholarship Program
The American Kennel Club is proud to offer a Junior Showmanship Scholarship
Program. The criteria for awarding the scholarships includes the following:
1) applicant's need;
2) applicant's academic achievement; and
3) applicant's involvement in the fancy.
Each applicant is
required to submit current school transcripts, as well as an essay including a
description of his or her experiences and interests in purebred dogs, including
an explanation of how the individual perceives his or her future role in the
fancy. This essay is an opportunity for you to explore the influence that
purebred dogs have had in your life to date and /or where it may lead you in the
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact (919) 816-3514.
Shetland Sheepdog Breed Standard
Preamble-- The Shetland Sheepdog, like the Collie, traces to the Border Collie of Scotland,
which, transported to the Shetland Islands and crossed with small, intelligent, longhaired breeds, was reduced to miniature
proportions. Subsequently crosses were made from time to time with Collies. This
breed now bears the same relationship in size and general appearance to the
Rough Collie as the Shetland Pony does to some of the larger breeds of horses.
Although the resemblance between the Shetland Sheepdog and the Rough Collie is
marked, there are differences which may be noted. The Shetland Sheepdog is a
small, alert, rough-coated, longhaired working dog. He must be sound, agile and
sturdy. The outline should be so symmetrical that no part appears out of
proportion to the whole. Dogs should appear masculine; bitches feminine.
Size, Proportion, Substance - The Shetland Sheepdog should stand between
13 and 16 inches at the shoulder. Note: Height is determined by a line
perpendicular to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog
standing naturally, with forelegs parallel to line of measurement.
Disqualifications-- Heights below or above the desired size range are to be
disqualified from the show ring.
In overall appearance, the body should appear moderately long as measured from
shoulder joint to ischium (rearmost extremity of the pelvic bone), but much of
this length is actually due to the proper angulation and breadth of the shoulder
and hindquarter, as the back itself should be comparatively short.
Head - The head should be refined and its shape, when viewed from top or
side, should be a long, blunt wedge tapering slightly from ears to nose.
Expression-- Contours and chiseling of the head, the shape, set and use
of ears, the placement, shape and color of the eyes combine to produce
expression. Normally the expression should be alert, gentle, intelligent and
questioning. Toward strangers the eyes should show watchfulness and reserve, but
Eyes medium size with dark, almond-shaped rims, set somewhat obliquely in skull.
Color must be dark, with blue or merle eyes permissible in blue merles only. Faults-- Light, round, large or too small. Prominent haws. Ears small and
flexible, placed high, carried three-fourths erect, with tips breaking forward. When in repose the ears fold lengthwise and are thrown back into the frill. Faults-- Set too low. Hound, prick, bat, twisted ears. Leather too thick or too
Skull and Muzzle - Top of skull should be flat, showing no prominence at
nuchal crest (the top of the occiput). Cheeks should be flat and should merge
smoothly into a well-rounded muzzle. Skull and muzzle should be of equal length,
balance point being inner corner of eye. In profile the top line of skull should
parallel the top line of muzzle, but on a higher plane due to the presence of a
slight but definite stop. Jaws clean and powerful. The deep, well-developed
underjaw, rounded at chin, should extend to base of nostril. Nose must be black.
Lips tight. Upper and lower lips must meet and fit smoothly together all the way
around. Teeth level and evenly spaced. Scissors bite.
Faults-- Two-angled head. Too prominent stop, or no stop. Overfill below,
between, or above eyes. Prominent nuchal crest. Domed skull. Prominent
cheekbones. Snipy muzzle. Short, receding, or shallow underjaw, lacking breadth
and depth. Overshot or undershot, missing or crooked teeth. Teeth visible when
mouth is closed.
Neck, Topline, Body - Neck should be muscular, arched, and of sufficient length to carry the head
proudly. Faults-- Too short and thick.
Back should be level and strongly muscled. Chest should be deep, the brisket
reaching to point of elbow. The ribs should be well sprung, but flattened at
their lower half to allow free play of the foreleg and shoulder. Abdomen
moderately tucked up. Faults-- Back too long, too short, swayed or roached.
Barrel ribs. Slab-side. Chest narrow and/or too shallow. There should be a
slight arch at the loins, and the croup should slope gradually to the rear. The
hipbone (pelvis) should be set at a 30-degree angle to the spine. Faults--
Croup higher than withers. Croup too straight or too steep.
The tail should be sufficiently long so that when it is laid along the back edge
of the hind legs the last vertebra will reach the hock joint. Carriage of tail
at rest is straight down or in a slight upward curve. When the dog is alert the
tail is normally lifted, but it should not be curved forward over the back. Faults--
Too short. Twisted at end.
Forequarters - From the withers, the shoulder blades should slope at a
45-degree angle forward and downward to the shoulder joints. At the withers they
are separated only by the vertebra, but they must slope outward sufficiently to
accommodate the desired spring of rib. The upper arm should join the shoulder
blade at as nearly as possible a right angle. Elbow joint should be equidistant
from the ground and from the withers. Forelegs straight viewed from all angles,
muscular and clean, and of strong bone. Pasterns very strong, sinewy and
flexible. Dewclaws may be removed. Faults-- Insufficient angulation between
shoulder and upper arm. Upper arm too short. Lack of outward slope of shoulders.
Loose shoulders. Turning in or out of elbows. Crooked legs. Light bone.
Feet should be oval and compact with the toes well arched and fitting tightly
together. Pads deep and tough, nails hard and strong. Faults-- Feet turning
in or out. Splay feet. Hare feet. Cat feet.
Hindquarters - The thigh should be broad and muscular. The thighbone
should be set into the pelvis at a right angle corresponding to the angle of the
shoulder blade and upper arm. Stifle bones join the thighbone and should be
distinctly angled at the stifle joint. The overall length of the stifle should
at least equal the length of the thighbone, and preferably should slightly
exceed it. Hock joint should be clean-cut, angular, sinewy, with good bone and
strong ligamentation. The hock (metatarsus) should be short and straight viewed
from all angles. Dewclaws should be removed. Faults-- Narrow thighs.
Cow-hocks. Hocks turning out. Poorly defined hock joint.
Feet as in forequarters.
Coat - The coat should be double, the outer coat consisting of long,
straight, harsh hair; the undercoat short, furry, and so dense as to give the
entire coat its "standoff" quality. The hair on face, tips of ears and feet
should be smooth. Mane and frill should be abundant, and particularly impressive
in males. The forelegs well feathered, the hind legs heavily so, but smooth
below the hock joint. Hair on tail profuse. Note: Excess-hair on ears, feet, and
on hocks may be trimmed for the show ring. Faults-- Coat short or flat, in
whole or in part; wavy, curly, soft or silky. Lack of undercoat. Smooth-coated
Color - Black, blue merle, and sable (ranging from golden through
mahogany); marked with varying amounts of white and/or tan. Faults--
Rustiness in a black or a blue coat. Washed-out or degenerate colors, such as
pale sable and faded blue. Self-color in the case of blue merle, that is,
without any merling or mottling and generally appearing as a faded or dilute
tri-color. Conspicuous white body spots. Specimens with more than 50 percent
white shall be so severely penalized as to effectively eliminate them from
competition. Disqualification-- Brindle.
Gait - The trotting gait of the Shetland Sheepdog should denote
effortless speed and smoothness. There should be no jerkiness, nor stiff,
stilted, up-and-down movement. The drive should be from the rear, true and
straight, dependent upon correct angulation, musculation, and ligamentation of
the entire hindquarter, thus allowing the dog to reach well under his body with
his hind foot and propel himself forward. Reach of stride of the foreleg is
dependent upon correct angulation, musculation and ligamentation of the
forequarters, together with correct width of chest and construction of rib cage.
The foot should be lifted only enough to clear the ground as the leg swings
forward. Viewed from the front, both forelegs and hindlegs should move forward
almost perpendicular to ground at the walk, slanting a little inward at a slow
trot, until at a swift trot the feet are brought so far inward toward center
line of body that the tracks left show two parallel lines of footprints actually
touching a center line at their inner edges. There should be no crossing of the
feet nor throwing of the weight from side to side.
Faults-- Stiff, short steps, with a choppy, jerky movement. Mincing steps,
with a hopping up and down, or a balancing of weight from side to side (often
erroneously admired as a "dancing gait" but permissible in young puppies).
Lifting of front feet in hackney-like action, resulting in loss of speed and
energy. Pacing gait.
Temperament - The Shetland Sheepdog is intensely loyal, affectionate, and
responsive to his owner. However, he may be reserved toward strangers but not to
the point of showing fear or cringing in the ring. Faults-- Shyness,
timidity, or nervousness. Stubbornness, snappiness, or ill temper.
Scale of Points
ears and expression
ribs and brisket
croup and tail
Forelegs and feet
thigh and stifle
Gait--smoothness and lack of wasted
motion when trotting
· Heights below or above the desired size range, i.e., 13-16 inches
May 12, 1959
APPLICATION FOR SPONSORSHIP TO ATTEND EITHER WESTMINSTER OR AKC EUKANUBA
1. The A.S.S.A. will provide three (3) $500 sponsorships to the top ranked
Open handlers (Junior, Intermediate, or Senior) - one from each of the
three A.S.S.A. geographic zones (East, Central, and West) based on the junior
showmanship statistics compiled for the Junior News and Views website (http://www.jrnewsandviews.com/herdingstats.htm#SHTLND)
as of October 11, 2005 for Eukanuba and as of December 1, 2005 for Westminster.
In the event the
first ranked junior in a zone does not qualify for Westminster or AKC Eukanuba
Invitational entry (qualifications for each show appear below), the second
ranked junior in that region will be sponsored if he/she qualified for
Westminster or Eukanuba. Only the top two ranked Open handlers in each
geographic region will be considered. If none of these six individuals is
qualified for Westminster or Eukanuba entry, no sponsorship will be awarded.
2. A.S.S.A. will prepay the $500 prior to Westminster or Eukanuba
3. The junior must meet the Westminster or Eukanuba entry qualifications
4. The statistics ranking and Westminster or Eukanuba qualifications must be
earned showing a sheltie
5. The junior must show a sheltie when competing at Westminster or Eukanuba
6. Sponsored juniors must present a report of the Westminster or Eukanuba
experience to the A.S.S.A., either in the A.S.S.A. Bulletin Board’s next issue
or at the A.S.S.A. annual meeting that spring
7. In the event the junior is unable to compete at Westminster or Eukanuba,
he/she must return the $500 to the A.S.S.A. treasurer within ten days of the
Westminster or Eukanuba show
8. The juniors parent or guardian must also sign this form accepting the
money and conditions and agree to return the $500 if the junior does not compete
or does not compete with a sheltie
9. Note that juniors are only eligible to win a sponsorship from each class
division (i.e. you can be sponsored once as an open junior, once as an open
intermediate, and once as an open senior)
JUNIOR HANDLER WINNERS
2006 Samantha Norris
2005 Josh Fisher
2004 James Allen
2003 Megan Nelson
2002 Megan Nelson
2001 Jenna Cruthers
2000 Jenna Cruthers
1999 Stacia Apostolos
1998 Kelly Churchill
1997 Erin Teplesky
1996 Nicholas P. Urbanek
1995 Nicholas P. Urbanek
1994 Rebecca Kozakiewicz
1993 Kelly M. Feeley
1992 Kerry Beth Rush
1991 Paul Dustin
1990 Nathan Worsham
1989 Rebecca Kozakiewicz
1988 Paul H. Dustin
1987 Kohlee K. Gleffe
1986 Tammie Gabrielson
1985 Jamie Rae
1984 Ann McCoy
1983 Deborah Kaye Jones
1982 Wendy Qualls
1981 Jennie Tomlin
1980 Elizabeth Ruggles
Careers in Dogs
Making a career
choice that you will be happy with is not easy. There are many things to
consider before you can really make the right choice for yourself.
Of course there are practical matters, such as educational requirements, that
should influence the decision you make.
However, choosing a career that will allow you to do something you enjoy is very
Do you have a love for dogs? If so, there are many choices available to you that
will allow you to combine a career with the love you feel for these wonderful
As you read through this information, please remember the following:
- Keep an open mind
- Think of all the
- Do not limit
- Explore your
- Have fun
We wish you the best
in your search for a rewarding and satisfying career!
Professions in the Sport of Purebred Dogs
To understand what a handler does, you should understand what a dog show is and
how it works. The sport of conformation, or dog showing, is a competition to
determine which dog conforms the best to its breed standard. A breed standard is
a written set of requirements that describe how a dog of that breed should look
and behave. Only registered purebred dogs are allowed to compete in dog shows.
Purebred dogs are dogs whose parents and ancestors are of the same breed.
Dogs from the same breed compete against each other to become Best of Breed,
which is the dog that best meets the requirements of its breed standard on that
day of competition. Some dog shows stop here. These are called specialty dog
shows. All-breed and group dog shows go further. Dogs that win Best of Breed go
on to compete for Best in Group. The American Kennel Club divides the more than
150 breeds it registers into seven groups. The seven winners of Best in Group
then go on to compete for Best in Show.
At dog shows, the competition takes place in show rings. The show ring is the
physical space where the dogs are shown and judged. A handler accompanies a dog
into the ring and shows the dog to the judge by standing the dog for examination
and moving around the ring with the dog. It may seem simple, but a handler's job
is not as easy as it seems! The skill of handling a dog to show off its best
qualities, while at same time not getting in the way of the judge's ability to
observe the dog, is one that requires years to master. Professional handling can
be a full-time job.
Professional handlers are paid to handle other people's dogs at shows. One of
the most popular reasons to hire a professional handler is to help a dog receive
the title of Champion. To become a Champion, a dog needs a certain number of
points. Dogs receive points based on how well they do during the competition
with other dogs of their same sex. This requires several trips to different dog
shows. Once a dog receives its championship, the owner can "campaign," or
compete with, the dog to accumulate more Bests of Breed, group wins and Bests in
Show. All this requires time and travel, so many owners are happy to hire a
professional handler to accomplish these things for them. Negotiating contracts
between owners and the handler, filling out the necessary forms to participate
in dog shows, and coordinating a travel schedule are also part of a handler's
In addition to showing, handlers spend their time preparing dogs for shows,
which involves grooming and conditioning, with some training. Most professional
handlers have assistants that do much of this preparation work. In fact, if
becoming a professional handler interests you, consider becoming a handler's
assistant. This is an excellent way to start acquiring the necessary hands-on
experience and knowledge required of a professional handler. A.K.C. Junior
Showmanship is another way of getting hands-on experience. To participate, you
must be between 10 and 18 years of age. In A.K.C. Junior Showmanship, the
handler is judged on how well the dog is handled in the show ring, not on the
show quality of the dog.
Professional handlers usually charge their clients a per-dog per-show fee and
travel expenses, with an additional fee to keep dogs in their kennel when they
are not being shown. If the handler acts as an agent, negotiating potential
breedings and related matters, he or she may also collect an additional fee.
Even though the income potential may seem high, the expenses are substantial.
Only after you have paid for travel expenses, maintaining your kennel, and
salaries for your assistants, will you be able to draw your own salary.
To be happy as a professional handler, you will need a strong love for the sport
of purebred dogs. You will also need to enjoy frequent travel. Strong
interpersonal skills are a must, since you will deal with many different people,
especially clients. You may not have much free time, but many of your social
contacts in the dog show world have the potential to become good friends.
A judge at a dog show decides how well the dogs in the show ring match their
breed standard. Even though the job of a judge may be simple to understand,
judging dogs is no simple task. As with becoming a professional handler,
becoming a dog show judge takes years of experience and in-depth knowledge of
purebred dogs. Some dogs that enter the show ring may not be good specimens of
the breed. However, most dogs that enter the show ring are good specimens, and
it takes a very trained eye to notice all the details that make one dog better
than the others.
If your goal is to judge, you will need to start learning as much as you can
about purebred dogs. Often people start out with one or two breeds they are
interested in. They own a dog or two of their favorite breed, and they learn all
about the breed. They may enter the dog in shows and maybe even act as the dog's
Some people may volunteer to become ring stewards. Ring stewards help the judge
in the show ring with organizing the paperwork and ribbons. After acquiring lots
of experience with the breed, perhaps they may ask to judge at their local
kennel club's match show. A match show is like a dog show, except no points are
given. It is held just for fun and experience. Once you are knowledgeable about
your breed, you can consider applying to the American Kennel Club (A.K.C.) to
approve you as a judge for your breed. As you learn about other breeds, you can
apply to the A.K.C. for approval to judge additional breeds.
Making a living as a dog show judge is not really an immediate possibility for
most people. As you slowly demonstrate your judging ability, more assignments
may be given to you. Most people have another job for many years before they try
to make a living from judging.
To give you a better idea of the experience you need before applying to become a
new breed judge, here are some of the prerequisites: at least 10 years of
involvement in the sport; breeding and raising at least four litters of one
breed; and producing at least two breed champions from those litters.
What you can do now
is go to dog shows. Compete in A.K.C. Junior Showmanship. Join a local kennel
club. Talk to breeders and consider getting a dog of your favorite breed. Learn
as much as you can, and judging might be in your future!
Show superintendents perform the detail work involved in dog shows. Show
superintendents are companies, even though some of the individuals are referred
to as show superintendents, too. As the number of dog shows increases every
year, so does the need for show superintendents.
Office staff and field staff divide the work of the show superintendent. The
field staff are sometimes responsible for setting up and tearing down the ring
equipment, which includes the partitions that form the rings, tables and chairs,
as well as the boxes of materials prepared by the office staff. The office staff
are responsible for producing the premium list and catalogs, as well as
supplying the ribbons and trophies. Office staff also receive the entry fees
that exhibitors send with their entry blanks from the premium list. The premium
list is a booklet that includes the names of judges attending the show and the
trophies offered, with a few entry blanks. The catalog includes information on
the individual dogs entered, including the sire and dam (father and mother),
date of birth, and registration number. The names of the breeders and owners of
the dogs are also listed.
The local kennel club contracts the show superintendent about a year in advance
of the show. Show superintendents usually receive a standard fee plus an
additional amount based on the number of dogs entered.
The best way to learn this business is to work for an established show
superintendent. Only after several years of experience can you start your own
Professional Field Trialers
Professional field trialers train and handle dogs for field trials. Field trials
offer practical demonstrations of a dog's ability to perform in the field the
functions for which it was bred. Field events are open to pointing breeds,
retrievers, spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Dachshunds. Events vary
according to breeds and the specific functions they were bred to perform, but in
each case, dogs compete against each other for placements and points toward
To succeed at this profession, field trialers must know how to train dogs to
compete. Getting started as a field trialer requires working for an established
trainer and learning the skills proficiently. Professional field trialers keep
dogs for years in order to train them. The salary depends on how successful a
field trialer is, which is largely determined by the success of the dogs in
events. Some of the most successful field trialers who train and handle 20 to 30
dogs at a time, can earn a healthy income.
Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club (A.K.C.) is the principal purebred dog
registry in the United States. It is also the leading regulatory agency for dog
shows and performance events. The A.K.C. has more than 500 employees.
To fulfill the A.K.C.'s responsibility to oversee the sport of purebred dogs,
the executive field staff attend dog shows and performance events, serving in
many different roles. An extensive background in purebred dogs is a must for the
executive field staff.
The A.K.C. GAZETTE, published monthly, has a staff of editors, as well as an art
and design department. Other A.K.C. jobs are as diverse as customer service,
finance and accounting, and computer software development.
Other A.K.C. departments include advertising, public relations, public
education, canine legislation, and a library. There are many career
Groomers are the barbers and beauticians of the dog world. Bathing, brushing,
combing, trimming and styling a dog's coat are only some of the responsibilities
of a groomer. Cleaning ears and cutting nails, as well as cleaning teeth and
getting rid of fleas, are also part of a groomer's job. Several breeds have
unique requirements that groomers must also learn.
Many groomer's clients are members of the dog show fancy, meaning people who are
actively involved in the sport of purebred dogs. Groomers are an important part
of the process in getting dogs ready for the show ring.
Grooming show dogs requires special bathing, clipping and brushing techniques.
Pet dogs, which are also part of a groomer's clientele, usually do not require
the same level of attention as show dogs.
Many groomers learn on their own. Some start as groomer's assistants and learn
by observing the groomer. Nevertheless, the best place to learn is probably at a
grooming school, especially if your experience with dogs is limited. The courses
do not usually last more than a few weeks, financial aid is often available and
most of the time the schools will help you find a job after you successfully
complete the coursework.
Grooming has the potential of generating a comfortable income. There is plenty
of flexibility in this career. You can work out of your own home and set your
own hours. You can work part-time or full-time. You can also choose to work at a
grooming shop, or open up your own shop. Some animal hospitals and pet supply
stores offer grooming services.
To be happy as a groomer, you must be willing to deal with the occasional
difficult dog and client. You also must be willing to invest the time it takes
to build a solid base of clients. If you enjoy working with dogs hands-on,
grooming can be a rewarding profession.
Dog obedience trainers teach dogs how to respond to commands. They also teach
dog owners how to train their own dogs. As long as people continue to own and
enjoy dogs, there will always be a need for dog obedience trainers. Dog owners
who give their dogs at least the most basic obedience training are much happier
with their pet dogs. The neighbors and the community are better off, and the
dogs are happier, too!
There are many opportunities available for dog trainers, including basic and
advanced obedience training; training dogs to work with the blind, deaf and
disabled; training dogs to search for lost people, drugs and bombs; and training
dogs to work in movies, television and theater. However, all of these
opportunities start with the basics.
Some trainers are lucky enough to learn directly from other established and
well-known trainers. Some trainers learn by going to a school for dog obedience
trainers. Regardless of the method, to become a competent and successful dog
obedience trainer requires hard work, years of experience and a strong love of
working hands-on with dogs almost every day.
There are some
trainers who make a living just from teaching individual dogs the basics, but
most trainers make a living teaching owners. Trainers of dogs that compete in
field events are a notable exception. Field events test how well certain breeds
help their owners hunt. This kind of training is very specialized, so many
owners choose to hire a professional.
Once a dog obedience trainer is proficient in teaching the basics and advanced
training, such as giving hand signals instead of voice commands, the trainer may
consider specializing in one or more of the kinds of training mentioned above.
These specializations take even more time to learn and master, but there is a
demand for them.
Animal behaviorists are to dogs what therapists and psychologists are to humans.
They analyze behavior problems in pets and recommend solutions to their owners.
As the number of pets and pet owners continues to increase, the demand for
animal behaviorists will grow, too. The ability to make a living in this field
is limited to those people who have extensive knowledge and experience.
This is a relatively new field, and there are still only a small number of
practitioners. A solid academic background in animal behavior and extensive
experience in dealing with a variety of animals in hands-on situations are
necessities. Even if you specialize in only one or two animals, such as dogs and
cats, acquiring the amount of knowledge and experience necessary to be competent
will take years.
Much like a baby sitter, a dog sitter takes care of a dog in the dog's home
while its owner is away. In addition to making sure the dog has food and water,
dog sitters are sometimes asked to take care of miscellaneous things such as
picking up the mail, feeding the fish or watering the plants.
Reliability and trustworthiness are essential to being a dog sitter. Basic dog
knowledge is helpful as well.
Fees are usually based on a per-visit/time-spent basis with additional fees for
taking care of any miscellaneous duties. Even though many dog sitters only work
part-time, there are opportunities to work full-time, especially in urban areas.
Some people have started their own full-time dog sitting agencies, with several
part-time employees. Dog sitting is a growing field.
Dog walkers do just what their name implies -- they walk other people's dogs. In
many urban areas, it is not uncommon to see a dog walker with three or four dogs
going to the local park during the middle of the day. Dog walkers are less
common in rural areas, but suburban areas also seem to be developing a need for
As with dog sitting, reliability and trustworthiness are essential for dog
walking. Patience in handling several dogs at once, a willingness to be outside
in all kinds of weather and a love for dogs are important.
Fees are usually based on a flat hourly rate. Again, as with dog sitters, many
dog walkers only work part- time. However, there are definitely opportunities to
own a dog-walking business with part-time employees.
Boarding kennels for dogs are like hotels for humans. Dog owners temporarily
place their dogs in boarding kennels when, for whatever reason, they must be
away from home.
Some of the job opportunities that are available by working in a boarding kennel
include owner, manager and assistant. Owning your own boarding kennel and having
someone else manage it may be the most ideal situation, but to start out,
assisting or managing a kennel is more likely.
Since operating a kennel requires many different tasks to be completed on any
given day, kennels always need assistants. Some of the tasks that kennel
assistants perform are cleaning and disinfecting runs and crates, as well as
giving the dogs food and water. Occasionally assistants bathe and medicate dogs,
too. Additional tasks include providing dogs with exercise, playtime and love.
Kennel managers run the overall day-to-day operations. These include dealing
with clients personally, receiving and releasing dogs from the kennel, ordering
food and supplies, overseeing maintenance of the facilities and supervising the
Fees are charged per-dog per-day with other fees charged for additional
services. Even though owning and operating a kennel may provide enough income to
make a living, many kennel owners do provide additional services to supplement
their income. These additional services can make the difference between just
getting by and making a comfortable living. Some of the additional services
include professional grooming, extending boarding services to cats and other
animals, and providing transportation for dogs to and from their homes to the
veterinarian, airport and other locations. Kennel managers and assistants are
usually expected to perform these additional services, too.
Dog Food and Pet Accessories
Dog food companies and companies that make pet accessories are closely linked to
the dog world. As with any other large corporation, they offer many different
Typical jobs range from clerical to management to sales. Many of these companies
also have special jobs for those people who want more involvement with the dog
world. Some have representatives who travel to dog shows across the country.
Many companies sponsor dog-related events and programs, allowing regular and
direct contact with the world of dogs. Salaries at many of these companies are
Creating and selling dog-related novelty items can be a fun and profitable way
to make a living. However, it may take some time and hard work to invent a
unique product that people will want to buy. Some common novelty items include
dog figurines, jewelry, toys and T-shirts.
Many dog-related novelty items are sold at dog shows and in dog supply catalogs.
Both provide access to the people who are most likely to be interested in your
product. At dog shows, vendors of novelty items rent booth space from the local
dog club. As dog show spectators and exhibitors walk around, they wander past
the vendors and almost always purchase something. If your dog-related novelty
item is a success, consider renting booths at shows nationwide. Many of the same
people you find at dog shows also receive dog supply catalogs. Catalogs are
advantageous because you can reach more people at once than at a dog show.
How much or how little you make selling these dog-related novelty items is
mostly up to you. It depends on the popularity of the product, whether you work
part-time or full-time and how well you market your product.
Pet Supply Stores
Pet supply stores offer a wide variety of products for pets and their owners. In
addition to pet food, most pet supply stores sell toys, books, pet furniture and
other pet-related items. Employment opportunities include owner, manager and
As with any small business, owning a pet supply store requires specific
management skills. As owner, you would be making business decisions that must
enhance your store's income potential. To acquire these skills, consider taking
a course on how to run a small business. Many local community colleges offer
Managing a pet supply store involves running the day-to-day operations. Some of
the responsibilities include ordering merchandise and other supplies,
bookkeeping, paying bills and delegating work to support staff. As a member of
the support staff, some of your responsibilities would include stocking shelves,
installing and maintaining displays, helping customers choose what products to
buy, working the cash register and general cleanup.
Many pet supply stores offer additional services, such as professional grooming,
to supplement their income. Some pet supply stores also work together with local
animal shelters and dog clubs to educate the public about responsible pet
ownership. These events are not only good for the community, but are also good
for business by enhancing the pet supply store's status and introducing its
services to potential customers. As a manager or member of the support staff,
you would also be involved with these additional services.
Salaries are sometimes modest, but enough to make a living. If you enjoy working
with people and want to learn more about animals, especially dogs, you may want
to consider working at a pet supply store.
Health Care Professions
Veterinarians are the first people who probably come to mind when anyone thinks
about a career with dogs or other animals. The job of a veterinarian is similar
to that of a human physician, except that veterinarians work on animals. Some
people might argue that veterinarians actually have a harder job than human
physicians. While human physicians only have to know the human body,
veterinarians have to know about many different kinds of animals, not just one.
Also, animals cannot tell you their problems, which makes accurate diagnosis
Just as there are many kinds of physicians for humans, there are many different
kinds of veterinarians. Some examples of veterinary specializations include such
diverse disciplines as dentistry, chiropractic, dermatology, pharmacology and
ophthalmology. A veterinarian may choose to specialize in general animal care,
although he or she usually specializes in either large or small animals. Large
animals include farm animals and horses. Small animals include dogs, cats and
other common pets.
To become a veterinarian requires dedication, education and expertise. Starting
in high school, you will need an interest and a very strong background in math
and science. Potential veterinary students must complete four years of
undergraduate school. Pre-veterinary studies include math and science, with a
large emphasis on biology and chemistry, as the major components.
After you have successfully completed your pre-veterinary studies you will be
ready to go to veterinary school. It takes four years of full-time study at an
accredited veterinary school to receive a DVM degree, which stands for doctor of
veterinary medicine. After receiving their DVM degree, veterinary school
graduates must pass a licensing exam before they can work as veterinarians.
school graduates pass their licensing exam, they are ready to start their new
careers as veterinarians. Usually these new veterinarians are not able to afford
the costs involved in establishing their own practice or clinic. Some of the
many start-up costs include purchasing or leasing space and equipment, as well
as acquiring the necessary office and medical supplies. A common situation for a
recent veterinary school graduate would be going to work at an established
veterinary hospital for several years, and then perhaps becoming an equal
partner with the other veterinarians who own the hospital or setting up a clinic
of his or her own.
A typical day for a veterinarian who specializes in small animals might include
checking on a dog or a cat that was just neutered the day before, performing
surgery on a dog to remove a tumor, seeing clients, ordering blood tests,
administering vaccinations, diagnosing illnesses and handling emergencies.
Veterinarians, almost without exception, make a comfortable living. It's
important to keep in mind that even though their income has the potential to be
lucrative, veterinarians have numerous costly expenses to maintain their
practices. These expenses include insurance premiums and salaries for veterinary
technicians and assistants.
A strong love for animals is necessary to be happy as a veterinarian. There are
moments of satisfaction, such as when you are able to help an animal recover
from an illness. There are also moments of frustration, such as when you have
done all that you can, but you have no other choice than to euthanize the
animal. Overall, the rewards can far outweigh other considerations, as long as
you are willing to make the required commitments of time, energy and money to
become a veterinarian.
Veterinary technicians and assistants share many of the same responsibilities.
Since these two jobs are similar, sometimes the term "veterinary assistant" is
used to describe both positions. However, veterinary technicians have additional
training. Without the important help that veterinary technicians and assistants
provide, veterinarians would have an almost impossible job.
A veterinary assistant's job is to assist the veterinarian with miscellaneous
tasks. These may include caring for animals staying at the hospital or clinic
overnight, helping clients, general clean-up of the facilities and clerical
If the veterinary hospital or clinic is large, veterinary assistants may only
specialize in one or two things. If the veterinary hospital or clinic is small,
veterinary assistants are often expected to perform a variety of tasks all by
themselves. Most of these tasks are usually learned on the job.
Veterinary technicians are responsible for many of the same tasks as veterinary
assistants. Additional responsibilities include operating laboratory and
surgical equipment. Many of the technical skills required of a veterinary
technician can be learned on the job working as a veterinary assistant. However,
many schools now offer classes to become a certified veterinary technician.
Both jobs require a love of animals and an interest in veterinary medicine.
Veterinary technicians and assistants must also be able to work in an office
environment and deal with both pleasant and not-so-pleasant pets and their
owners. Salaries vary, but usually range from modest to competitive.
Veterinary Science and Research
Veterinary science and research is a large field that offers several career
opportunities. Some of the people involved in veterinary science and research
have an occupation directly related to veterinary medicine, such as
veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. Many others,
such as corporate executives, fund-raisers and clerical workers, do not.
However, all these people are working toward the same goal.
In general, veterinary science and research is dedicated to improving the health
and lives of animals. Many different kinds of companies support and sponsor
studies to develop new methods of treating and preventing illness. Some examples
are pharmaceutical companies, dog food companies and universities. Other funding
sources include private donors, government agencies and charitable
organizations, such as the A.K.C. Canine Health Foundation.
As mentioned above, this field offers career opportunities to people with many
different kinds of skills and backgrounds.
If your skills include administration and office support, perhaps you should
consider a clerical or management position in a department at a pharmaceutical
company involved in finding a cure to a genetic disease in your favorite breed.
If your skills include math and science, perhaps you should consider becoming a
veterinary technician at a university conducting research on improving life
expectancy for older dogs. The list of possibilities goes on and on.
Salaries in this field vary significantly, as do the kinds of jobs.
Regardless, there should be plenty of opportunities to find a career in
veterinary science and research that will allow you to earn a sufficient income.
Law Enforcement Professions
Animal Control Officer/Humane Officer
Animal control officers work for animal control agencies. These agencies are
either contracted or created by cities and towns to enforce animal control laws.
Some examples are pet-licensing laws that require dog owners to obtain a license
from the municipality and an identification tag for their dog, as well as leash
laws that require dog owners to walk their dogs on a leash in public. Animal
control agencies and officers may also pick up lost/stray animals and catch
In addition to enforcement of laws, animal control agencies and officers try to
find good homes for the stray dogs and cats they pick up. They also try to find
the owners of lost animals. Investigating allegations of animal cruelty is yet
another function they perform.
Humane officers work for privately funded humane organizations educating the
public about responsible pet ownership. A municipality will often contract a
humane organization to act as its animal control agency. In this case, the
humane officers assume the role of animal control officers. If the local city or
town creates its own animal control agency, the humane officers will often work
closely with the animal control officers to achieve their mutual goals.
Salaries for these positions are comparable to those for police officers. To be
successful in this field, you have to be able to work hands-on with people and
animals. Animal control officers and humane officers provide an important and
often forgotten service to the community.
Animal Shelter Staff
Animal shelter staff is often comprised of a large number of volunteers. These
volunteers help with the more basic and time-consuming tasks, such as exercising
the animals, cleaning their holding areas and helping people who come to the
shelter to adopt a dog or cat.
Volunteers often fill a large number of staff positions at animal shelters
because many shelters do not have large budgets, so they need to dedicate the
funds they do have to caring for the animals.
Members of the animal shelter staff who do receive a salary are responsible for
managing the animal shelter. Some of these salaried employees include managers,
clerical workers and accounting/finance positions. However, even some of these
positions can be filled by volunteers, sometimes leaving very little room for
salaried employees. Availability of these salaried positions depends on the size
of the animal shelter, as well as the size of its budget.
Salaries for animal shelter staff are modest, but it is possible to make a
living. If you enjoy caring for dogs, this field is worth considering.
Police/Military K-9 Units
Police and military K-9 units use dogs to search for illegal drugs, bombs and
explosives, missing persons and people who become trapped after natural
disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Sometimes police K-9 units also use dogs to apprehend criminals attempting to
escape arrest. Military K-9 units use dogs during war to help with guard duty
and to send and receive important messages.
Members of police and military K-9 units are responsible for the dogs in their
care. Both the dog and the police/military handler work together as a team. The
handler regularly trains with the assigned dog and gives the dog exercise and
companionship. They also practice old commands and learn new commands.
Professional trainers are often responsible for teaching the dogs and handlers,
but, after that, the handlers take over daily reinforcement.
Salaries are sometimes slightly higher than what an average police officer or a
member of the military would make because of the specialized nature of the work.
In addition to first becoming a police officer or a member of the military, you
will need special training to work with these kinds of dogs.
Writers have many kinds of opportunities available to them in the dog world.
Some outlets for dog writers include magazines, newspapers and books.
There are several general-interest dog magazines across the country that cover a
variety of subjects, including how to choose a dog and basic training. Also,
there are many dog magazines that target the dog fancy, such as the A.K.C.
GAZETTE, and include such topics as how to breed a healthy dog and important
news from dog shows. Both kinds of dog magazines are usually open to hiring
novice writers, as long as those writers have some dog knowledge.
All kinds of newspapers nationwide, from daily to weekly and big to small,
usually have a regular pet column. Even if they do not have a regular pet
column, most have feature articles about pets. Here again, novice writers have
an excellent opportunity, especially with the smaller newspapers, as long as
they have some dog knowledge.
Dog books are numerous and cover a wide variety of subjects. Topics include
introductory dog-care information, advanced training techniques and individual
breed histories. In addition to nonfiction books, the demand for fiction dog
books is growing, especially children's books. With such a large number of areas
to cover, there will always be space for ambitious dog writers. Of course, the
more detailed the subject matter, the more specific the writer's knowledge of
dogs must be.
Another outlet for
dog writers are dog food companies and other dog-related retail companies. These
companies provide different kinds of brochures and other handouts about their
products and on basic dog care.
To be a successful dog writer, you must first become a competent writer.
Learning to write well does not just happen. It requires years of practice and
begins with learning the basics in school. Once you feel that your writing
skills are up to the challenge, you will need to acquire experience. Writing for
the school newspaper is a good way to start.
Salaries will range from modest to comfortable. It will all depend on your level
of expertise in both writing and dog knowledge, as well as what kind of material
you are writing and who will be paying you. Making a living as a writer is not
always easy, but it is possible for those who have skill and determination.
The number of photographers specializing in animal imagery is growing rapidly.
While some focus on wildlife or farm animals, many others focus on family pets.
There are even some who focus exclusively on dogs, though that number is small.
Many animal photographers do not start out with the intention of becoming an
animal photographer. The art of photography itself is what usually attracts
people. Only after they have learned their craft and can make a living do they
begin photographing animals exclusively. However, as the field becomes more
established, this pattern may change.
You can learn about photography on your own as a hobby, from a friend or by
taking classes at a local college or photography studio. Whichever way you
choose, it will take time and money to learn the basics. It will take even more
time to learn how to photograph dogs and other animals.
If you would like to focus on dog photography, one of the most common places to
find work is at a dog show. Many dog clubs hire an official photographer to take
pictures of all the winners. You can also meet people that would be interested
in your work by renting booth space at the show. Other common outlets for dog
photography are dog books and magazines.
Your salary will depend on whether you work part-time or full-time and how well
you market yourself. However, quality is most important. Animal photography is
an art. If done well, people will pay for it.
Illustrators specializing in animals have much in common with animal
photographers. Some focus on wildlife, many others focus on pets such as cats
and dogs. Some prefer a very realistic approach, while others specialize in
cartoon-like illustrations. Both animal photographers and illustrators share
many of the same clients, as well as the same outlets for their work. Additional
outlets for animal illustrators include note paper, clothing, calendars and
other similar products.
Illustration is an art that must be learned and done well before considering it
as a career choice. While there are people that make a living as animal
photographers, the market for animal illustrators is smaller. However, many
animal illustrators do make a good living. Talent and self-promotion are vital
to your success in this field.
· Additional Resources
For more detailed information about specific dog-related careers and jobs,
contact these organizations:
Professional Handlers Association
17017 Norbrook Drive
Olney, MD 20832
National Dog Groomers Association of America
P.O. Box 101
Clark, PA 16113
Animal Behavior Society
2611 East 10th St. 170
Bloomington, IN 47408-2603
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
17000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
American Boarding Kennels Association
1702 East Pikes Peak Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173
National Animal Control Association
P.O. Box 480851
Kansas City, MO 64148
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128
Professional Photographers of America
229 Peachtree St., NE, Suite 2200
Atlanta, GA 30303
The Graphic Artists Guild
90 John St., Suite 403
New York, NY 10038
The following books contain more information about dog-related careers and jobs:
*Barber, Kim. Career Success With Pets. New York, NY: Howell Book House, 1996
*Miller, Louise. Careers for Animal Lovers and Other Zoological Types.
Lincolnwood, IL: VGM Career Horizons, 1991
*Pavia, Audrey. Careers With Dogs. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series,
The following books contain general information about purebred dogs:
*American Kennel Club. American Kennel Club Dog Care and Training. New York, NY:
Howell Book House, 1991
*American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book, 19th Edition Revised. New York,
NY: Howell Book House, 1997
*American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book for Kids. New York,
NY: Howell Book House, 1996
Copyright © 1998-2007 American Shetland Sheepdog Association. All Rights Reserved.