Champion Wyoming Aussie Shepherd Off To Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (2024)

A well-groomed Sansa heads to work every day to with owner Shelby Shank to her kitchen design business.

You could call the Australian shepherd a working dog — and a pet.

“She lays on my desk and greets our customers,” Shank said.

A designer at French Creek Design in Casper, Shank and Sansa are also a team in the show-dog arena and are preparing for the 148th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York on May 11. The pair plan to be in the show ring May 13 to compete in the Super Bowl of dog shows.

They will likely see another Wyoming champion pooch, a Bracco Italiano named Rowan from Douglas.

“We are super excited. It’s the first dog that we’ve actually bred that we think has merit to attend, so that is really cool for us,” Shank said.

“Essentially, it’s one of those bucket-list items if you show dogs,” she said. “It’s like the Super Bowl of dog shows for dog people, so it is pretty cool to go and attend and get to experience it all.”

Learning Young

Shank moved to the Casper area four years ago from Phoenix, Arizona. She grew up showing and breeding dogs with her mother.

“My mom started showing dogs in 4-H and then continued on breeding Dobermans and Pomeranians and then we got into Aussies when I was around 2,” she said. “I started showing as a peewee at age 3.”

When Sansa was born six years ago, Shank said she planned on keeping a male puppy from the litter and recommended the “redhead dog” as a special pup for her mom. But her mother told her that if she loved the dog that much, she should keep her.

So, Shank did.

Sansa first stepped into the show ring as a puppy, and has gone on to become an Australian Shepherd Club of America supreme champion and American Kennel Club grand champion.

“I don’t show her as much as I should, that’s terrible,” Shank said. “I really only show her, like, five times a year, maybe. Every year she attends the ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) Nationals and the past two years she also attended the United States Australian Shepherd Association Nationals.

“We do the Casper show here and then we sometimes go to Greeley (Colorado).”

At Westminster, the pair is entered to be part of the breed standards competition. Shank said judges will be looking for Sansa’s movement, structure, eyesight, her ear shape, foot shape, grooming and how she presents herself in general.

Smart Dogs

As a breed, Australian shepherds are “beyond very intelligent” and extremely loyal animals, Shank said. That loyalty and bond manifests in the show ring. She said her mother has tried showing Sansa, but the dog doesn’t perform as well for anyone but Shank.

“What I get out of her and the loyalty and the connection we have while showing is just so different,” Shank said. “When we are showing and I need her to do something, I can move a shoulder and essentially get her to move her feet with my body language. And I never even really taught her that. One day I just did it and she picked it up and I thought, ‘That’s really cool.’ And she’s done it ever since.”

Shank characterizes the breed as extremely versatile with the ability to do herding, tracking, agility, dock diving and more.

Should Sansa win the breed competition at Westminster, she would go on to compete against other herder breeds and if she wins that, they would go up against all breeds in the coveted Best of Show competition.

As a breeder, Shank said she tells customers that her dogs are 2% show dogs and 98% pets. She said Sansa shows a classic trait of Australian shepherds in addition to having her own personality as a redheaded “diva.”

“Aussies are supposed to be reserved with strangers and so she is. For a show dog, that is very interesting because we will have people come in and she will go ‘don’t touch me,’” Shank said. “But she will get touched every day for dog shows.”

The ‘Diva’

As the redheaded “diva” of the family, Sansa is fine with looking at people and hanging out with them, not wanting to be touched until “all of a sudden she deems you can touch her and then she loves people.”

“But it is very selective and that is something I have never had in an Aussie before, that is very selective in how she likes to be approached and everything like that,” Shank said.

Shank said she knows Rowan, the Douglas dog, and his owner Jenni Nieft. The two dogs would not meet in any competition unless both make it to the Best of Show round.

After flying to New York on May 11, Shank said she and Sansa plan to go to the dog show site the next day and also want to be there early May 13.

“I am very much a nervous person and always stressed about being on time, and the nightmares have already started that I am going to miss it,” she said. “So, we’ll get there early, and she will get washed and everything, and then she’ll show and then the following day we will hop on another plane to St. Louis to attend the (U.S. Australian Shepherd) nationals for her for the top 20 event. So, we will hit two shows in one week flying around the country.”

And if Sansa happens to be named Best of Show at Westminster?

“Honestly, I would probably retire her,” she said. “After this year she is going to go into a semi-retirement. But (if that happens) we would do one-and-done’ and go out on top.”

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at

In case you missed it

Champion Wyoming Aussie Shepherd Off To Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (2024)


Who won the Herding Group at Westminster? ›

Australian Shepherd

Who is the world champion Australian shepherd? ›

Australian shepherd named Viking crowned Best in Show at 2024 Crufts dog competition. In short: A three-year-old Australian shepherd named Viking has claimed the most prestigious title at Crufts 2024 in Birmingham, England.

What is the most prestigious dog show? ›

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, leading U.S. dog show competition, held annually by the New York City-based Westminster Kennel Club (WKC).

Is Australian Shepherd the most intelligent dog? ›

According to Coren's standards, the Australian Shepherd ranked (drumroll, please) 42nd among 138 breeds. This ranking may feel lower than expected if you know Australian Shepherds well. However, their intelligence remains above average for dog breeds as a whole.

Why are Australian Shepherds so special? ›

Besides working as herding animals, Aussies serve as police dogs, narcotics detectors and competitors in obedience trials. They also make great family pets. They are a recent addition to the AKC herding group some Aussie breeders fear AKC recognition may create undue emphasis on appearance over ability.

Has a German shepherd ever won Westminster? ›

Manhattan, another German shepherd, took the top prize in 1987. “The German shepherd standard talks about quality and nobility,” said Thomas H Bradley 3d, the veteran judge who assessed Tuesday's final seven. “When you recognize it, it hits you at home, and that's what it really is. “She is just magnificent.”

What breed has won the most at Westminster? ›

The single breed that has won the most is the Wire Fox Terrier, which has won 15 times.

Where is Ribbon the Australian Shepherd from? ›

Ribbon, an Australian Shepherd from Bloomingdale – a village in east-central Ohio – placed first in the Herding Group category and advanced to the final seven dogs up for Best in Show honors.

Are Australian Shepherds dominant dogs? ›

Temperament and Personality

Since Australian Shepherds were bred to be pushy leaders with livestock, they will assume a dominant role in your home if you don't give them firm leadership. This can mean that an Australian Shepherd is not a good choice for first-time or timid dog owners.

Are Australian Shepherd good dogs? ›

In general, Australian Shepherds are known to be good with children and other pets. They are loyal, loving, tolerant, and often make great playmates for energetic children. However, with strong herding instincts, Aussies may try to “herd” their families, mainly smaller children and other pets.

What celebrities have an Australian Shepherd? ›

Did you know? Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd is remarkably popular with celebrities. Famous owners include actress Amanda Seyfried (The Art of Racing in the Rain — a fabulous dog film), Susan Sarandon, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, director Steven Spielberg… the list is almost endless!

What breed has never won Best in Show? ›

Some breeds regularly stand out to judges

The Best in Show award has eluded half of 2023's 10 most popular breeds, with French bulldogs (#1), Labrador retrievers (#2), golden retrievers (#3), dachshunds (#6), and rottweilers (#9) never earning the prize.

How much money do you get for winning the Westminster Dog Show? ›

What do winners get? Bragging rights and trophies. There are no cash prizes, though the agility and obedience winners each get to direct a $5,000 Westminster donation to a training club or to the American Kennel Club Humane Fund.

Where will the 2024 Westminster Dog Show be held? ›

Where is the 2024 Westminster dog show being held? For the second consecutive year, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is being held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. The Best in Show winner will be crowned on the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

What dog has never won the Westminster Dog Show? ›


The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the preeminent authority on what makes a good dog. There have been 115 winners so far. Of those winners, none have come from the three most popular breeds in America: French bulldog, Labrador retriever or golden retriever.

What dog breed has won the most dog shows? ›

The single breed that has won the most is the Wire Fox Terrier, which has won 15 times.

Has an Australian cattle dog ever won the Westminster Dog Show? ›

No Australian cattle dog has won or even placed in the group at Westminster. Hughes said the more eye-catching breeds tend to win in group competition.

Has an Australian Shepherd ever won Best in Show Crufts? ›

An Australian shepherd called Viking has been crowned best in show at the 2024 Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham. The three-year-old from Solihull beat 24,000 dogs from around the world to claim the show's top honour on Sunday.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated:

Views: 5615

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.