Interview by Kerri Denter, Felicity Shelties




Sheila Monks has been a show breeder for 18 years and an all-breed handler for 15 years. She has finished many dogs in the Toy, Non-sporting, Working, Hound and Herding breeds. Now she concentrates on Shelties, occasionally handling Smooth and Rough Collies

She has produced 18 Champions with high honors. One of them, Ch. Shield Crest Mastercard won the Canada National from the Sable class. 15 of them have Specialty and Best of Breed wins. Some have multiple placements in Groups,  has had 2 Best in Shows at All Breed shows. Shield Crest Shelties excel in movement, coat, temperament, bone and beautiful heads with parallel planes.

Sheila lives in Ballston Spa, NY with her husband Bob. She has two grown children, Michael and Charlene, and 6 grandchildren: Bobby, Cody, Josh, Dalton, Jeremy and Samantha. Sheila also loves her two horses: Monkene 34 this year and Jake, 10 years.

Sheila with Ch Shield Crest Sedona


Kerri: 1.When did you establish your kennel name and how did you come to choose it?

Sheila: I established my kennel 30 years ago. The name was going to be S&B, which meant Sheila & Bob, but I didn't like it so I came up with Shield Crest. 'Shield' was like Sheila and 'Crest' was because we live on a little hill.

Sheila and Bob's house

Sheila and Bob's house

2. When did you first become interested in showing and breeding dogs?

We have shown horses since Charlene was 3 years old and Michael was 5 years old. I also used to break and train horses. We attended shows every weekend and I judged some horse shows, too. As the years went on Charlene and our son Michael wanted to show dogs in 4-H. I guess you can say they got me interested in dogs. I saw how much fun they were having and I wanted to try it out. I started out doing Obedience, just like many others. But having the horse breeding background I wanted to start breeding great show and performance dogs. I already had a performance dog; now I set out to show everyone I could also be a good breeder of show dogs. So in 1989 I started to breed show dogs.


3. Why did you choose Shelties?

We chose Shelties as they are a smaller dog and they look like Lassie. Having the beauty and brains, love of children and devotion to their family, it was the dog for us! No matter what pet our children brought home the Shelties loved them too.

4. How did you first establish your kennel? What were you looking for in foundation stock? And how did you obtain it?

Getting a foundation bitch was hard as no one wants to help someone getting started. I bought my first Sheltie, a High Born daughter and did the backyard thing, I hate to say. From there I kept one of her daughters and just kept working my way up the ladder. It takes a long time to get that great dog--no one wants to sell to a novice. So it took me 10 years to get there instead of the 2 to 3 years it should have taken. I kept all the good movers and bred them to some great studs. That is how we got started. To this day we love to sell our best to novices and help them all the way. 

5. What dog or line has helped you in your breeding program and why?

I would have to say Whirlwind for the coat and bone. Macdega for soundness.

6. How much of a problem has size been to you? What do you go by in determining size in a puppy? At what age do you feel you can safely begin to “cull” out the show puppies from the pets? Where do you draw the line in your breeding stock?

Size has not been that much of a problem to me. I am not saying we have not had some little ones or big ones, but most of the time they are in size. At 10 weeks old I don't want my puppies over 9 1/2". But every once in a while they may be over that size at that age and then I look at the leg, how much leg is under the puppy. This also tells me something; having experience with horses, you just know. I had both a male and a bitch at 10 weeks 10 1/2 ", but they stayed in size, becoming 15 1/2" full grown. But they had short legs, that is why I kept them. I can tell a pet by the time it is 6 to 7 weeks. As for the show dogs we can hope "this is the one" at 10 weeks. By the time they are 4 months I know for sure. I have got to have legs; I can forgive a head that is a little too wide or too narrow, as long as they have the correct planes. A little larger eye doesn't bother me either.

Charlene, Anastasia & Sheila

7. How many dogs are in your kennel? Is there such a thing as an “ideal” number of dogs in a kennel in your opinion?

Sheila: I have 8 bitches and 2 dogs. Charlene has 2 dogs and 3 bitches. I have no opinion on how many dogs any one should have as long as they can give them the attention, grooming, and vet care when needed.

8. How many litters of puppies are born at your kennel per year?

Maybe 1 to 2 per year. I have to have a lot of time for puppies. And I don't like to breed them every time they come in season as some breeders do .

9. How do you handle whelping? Do you use whelping boxes, crates,  etc? Do you use heating pads, shredded paper, blankets, etc ?

I use a 3 x 3 puppy play pen. We have a heating pad at one end and a heavy rug on top on it.

Charlene, Anastasia & Sheila

10. How and when are puppies weaned at your kennel?

When the moms say 'no more', it is up to them. They usually stop at 6 weeks. But they stay with the puppies and play with them all the time.

11. How and at what age do you begin to socialize your puppies? What has worked best for you?

Our puppies are handled the day they are born. We pick them up at least 5 to 10 times a day and give them kisses. When puppies are strong enough, which could be 5 weeks old, they go to all the shows with me. This way they also get to see the big world with their mom and they don't get afraid. We have an RV, so they stay in the RV with mom until they get their shots. At 7 weeks they can come out of the RV and see the world. We have found this works great. I have never had any of them get sick by doing this. It is good for them to be out there. I am an ex-vet technician.

12. How are your dogs show trained? At what age?

We start them at 6 weeks in the living room. We ask the puppies who is the show pup. They learn real fast that they are going to get something great to eat.

13. How do you condition your dog for the show ring?

As far as muscle tone goes they do that on their own by running all day outside. We take special care of their coats and they get a bath once a week. And a spray with water every other day.

14. What grooming products do you use and would recommend?

A very good pair of straight and thinning scissors, a good pin brush, comb, a good whitening shampoo with a conditioner.

15. What do you feed your dogs? Do you use any supplements?

I feed Eukanuba. I may sometimes give a supplement and if I do I use Inflight.

16. What is your opinion on the new vaccination protocols?

Well, this is a hard question. I still give my dogs their vaccination every year. I can't afford to do the blood test on every dog here. I have had no problems in giving the shot to them yet and hope I don't. I really feel better doing this and trying to keep them healthy. My dogs have been living long lives of 16 years. I hope this keeps up. You would have to do one or the other to make sure you have it covered.

Ch Shield Crest Nevada

17. What has been the positive part about handling your own dogs? And the negative? Have you used or do you use other handlers? What would you personally recommend in a handler if an exhibitor were looking for one?

It is always great to show your own; you know just what the dog is going to do by knowing the dog inside and out. The negative is you get a little more nervous with your own, sometimes you expect  too much from them. No, we don't usually use a handler, but when I needed one Steve Barger handled, also Tom Coen, when he was a handler. I would say: watch the handlers and see how they handle their customers' dogs, how the dog responds to them. Always watch behind the scene from afar and from there you can learn a lot in how dogs are really being treated.

18. How do you handle stud services in your kennel?  Do you breed naturally or AI? What do you do in your program that may be different? Do you use ovulation tests? What tests do you require in advance before breeding an outside bitch?

We will do either natural or AI breedings, it all depends on the male. Sometimes they will just not breed a bitch natural so we AI them. We want everyone to have a chance to have pups. No, my dogs know when they are ready to be bred, thank god for that.

Ch Shield Crest Nevada

19. In your breeding program, which dog do you feel was most influential to your success?

I would think Ch Shield Crest Sedona, our sable, she has a lot to do with it, as she produced Ch Shield Crest Phoenix , Ch Shield Crest Arizona, and Ch Shield Crest Nevada. She also has two more girls in the wings, soon to come out. I also have to say Shield Crest X's And O's did great for our AOAC line as she produced Ch Shield Crest Anastasia who is the number one Bi-Black bitch in the history of the breed. Anastasia has 2 B.I.S. and B.I.S.S., Sedona has B.I.S.S. and Group 1's, along with her daughters.

20. How do you feel about Color Headed Whites? Or the homogeneous white and sable merles? Would you keep them solely for breeding? 

No, I would not keep one for breeding. I have no problem with the color--a Sheltie is a Sheltie, no matter what color it is. But I do not breed to get them so I don't have to worry about them.

21. How has the increased awareness of hip dysplasia, Sheltie Eye Anomaly, and hypothyroidism affected your kennel?

We have had no problem with any of these. I hope it stays that way.

22. What would you say the breed needs most improvement on?

Fronts. There are way too many straight fronts out there.

23. In your breeding stock, what is one fault you simply will not tolerate?

I don't like or want 'cow hocks'.

24. If you could go back and bring a certain dog into your breeding program, who would it be and why?

I have no idea, as Shelties have changed way too much. But I would look for the dogs that had the strong fronts.

25. What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of this sport? What do you enjoy most about it?

I love the grooming , training, exhibiting, and I enjoy most of all the finished dog.

26. What would you say is the most challenging?

To breed sound dogs.

27. With any sport there are at times poor sportsmanship. How have you overcome it when it has been an issue?

This is one thing I hate seeing and I am seeing all too much of it lately. I just walk away, I don't want to hear it. If I don't like something I take it home with me where no one hears it. We have to remember that whatever is done in the ring it was the judge that pointed the finger. And there will be another judge down the road. You also have to remember someone loves that dog. So why hurt someone's feelings?

28. Who was your first true mentor? Who has influenced you the most? Whom do you admire?

My first mentor was Steve Barger. My husband Bob has influenced me the most, by telling me , "Keep up your goals, you can do this". I have always admired Tom Coen and Steve Barger.

29. What are your future goals?

I would love to judge Futurity at the ASSA National. And I would love to win the National in my lifetime, W.D. or W.B. B.O.B., B.O.S, any one of these things would be great!

30. What do you feel has been the one key to your continuing success?

My husband Bob.

Ch Shield Crest Anastasia B.I.S.

31. What has been the highlight of your career?

Ch. Shield Crest Anastasia, Onya's Best In Show.

32. With all of your experience, what words of advice do you have for the novice?

Do your own thing, it does work. Read books on conformation, how the dog anatomy really is. Not just read it, LEARN it. Learn how movement is supposed to be. Not what we THINK it is.

33. Is there anything you would like to add ?

As a breeder I would like to say: People, help others who are trying to get started in our breed. They are the future for this great breed. Remember they have to get started too and be taught. We need them as much as they need us to keep this breed going!


Ch Shield Crest Anastasia B.I.S.

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