How to Become an AKC Judge

The minimum requirements and procedures for judging at American Kennel Club-sanctioned dog shows.

Dog World ExtraPurebred breeder-handlers often aspire to become conformation judges. To apply for an American Kennel Club judging license, you must have:

  • Exhibited in conformation for 12 or more years in at least one breed
  • Bred and raised five or more litters of one breed on your premises
  • Bred four or more champions in one breed

AKC looks for potential judges who have not only produced and exhibited outstanding examples of their breed but also thoroughly understand the judging process. Therefore, you also need to complete the following before requesting a judge’s application:

  • Six stewarding assignments at AKC shows within three years of application.
  • Six judging assignments at AKC-sanctioned matches, specialty matches, sweepstakes or futurities. To judge at these events, you must be asked by a show-giving club.
  • Attendance at an AKC Basic Judges’ Institute within two years of application. These are one-day seminars given by AKC staff held at various times during the year throughout the United States. The seminars address ring procedure, evaluating dogs and the AKC judge’s approval process.
  • An open-book exam for canine anatomy and AKC judging procedures.
  • A pre-application interview with AKC staff

After meeting these requirements, you need to fill out the AKC judge’s application form. If you’re thinking of applying for a judging license at some point, keep careful records of your dog activities so you can accurately record them on the detailed form.

Once your application is submitted, you must successfully pass another open-book exam on the standard for the breed(s) applied for and another interview with AKC staff. If the AKC staff and board of directors act favorably on your application, you will become a provisional judge and be able to take judging assignments. After successfully completing five provisional assignments where your actual judging is graded by an AKC field representative, you can apply for regular judging status. Congratulations! You are now part of a select group of dog lovers who help shape the future quality of a given breed.

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