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The AKC National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS) Turns Two!

When the NOHS was started in 2012 it kicked off a unique opportunity for the Owner-Handler to highlight their dogs in addition to the regular competition at a dog show. As with any new concept, the NOHS certainly had its fair share of growing pains. Each year the NOHS continues to attract more participants and offer more shows.

In two short years the number of NOHS events has grown from 71 to more than 550 events this year. That’s a 700% growth rate for the number of clubs offering NOHS since 2012! Kudos to the clubs and exhibitors on embracing this new Series!


Each day, AKC staff talks with exhibitors and clubs about this program. We listen to their feedback and have used it to improve the program. For example, we changed the name of the Series to clarify its intent, we expanded the number of clubs able to offer the NOHS, and recently the Board made some enhancements for the 2015 qualifying period. Some of these changes give clubs more flexibility to hold events, ensure those eligible exhibitors in the Amateur-Owner classes are being included in the competition, and define professional handlers as being active within the last five years.

In addition, we have developed some tools for clubs and stewards to help explain the different eligibility scenarios. Among them a new educational video available on the AKC YouTube Channel and a procedural flow chart. Hopefully, the video and the flow chart used together will help everyone gain a better understanding of how the judging procedure works.


As the Series expanded in popularity the inaugural NOHS Finals was held in Orlando, Florida in December 2013. An astounding 521 entries representing 160 AKC breeds attended. The judges for the Finals commented on the outstanding quality of the dogs. This was an affirmation of the dedication and enthusiasm of the owner-handler exhibitors. Many of the judges remarked that they were disappointed they could only reward one quality dog and exhibitors were also disappointed that only one dog was recognized.

Based on that feedback, we are happy to announce new and exciting additions to the 2014 NOHS Finals held in Orlando, Florida on Friday, December 12th in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. First, we will be awarding not only Best of Breed Owner-Handled but a Best of Opposite Sex Owner-Handled award as well. Second, each participant will receive an NOHS commemorative item. Finally, the NOHS Best in Show winner will be selected by Mrs. Charlotte P. Patterson of Destin, Florida Saturday night in the arena. It will be exciting to watch the owner-handlers and their outstanding dogs receive additional recognition under the bright lights on the blue carpet before a large audience.

Feedback has been and continues to be vital to the ongoing success of the program. We encourage everyone to contact us with their experiences and ideas to keep the NOHS growing and thriving. We can be reached at eventnews@akc.org. Happy showing!

Written by

Bri Tesarz has been involved with dogs her whole life as a third generation fancier raised with Shetland Sheepdogs. Her original breed is the Polish Lowland Sheepdog (PON), and she has recently become involved in Portuguese Water Dogs (PWD). Currently, she shares her home with a PON, a PWD, a Pug and an Australian Shepherd. She has participated in Conformation, Obedience, Agility, and AKC Rally, and has served as show chair for both all-breed and parent clubs. She started her career with the AKC nearly 10 years ago as a summer intern, and has spent most of her tenure with the Event Operations department.
  • Robin Gates August 19, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I am so glad to see AKC is adding to the merit and prestige of the NOHS. I am proud to have participated since one of the very first events in 2012. I look forward to all that the NOHS will offer us owner handlers in the future.

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