Greater California
German Shepherd Rescue
~ It's all about the dogs ~

Our Wonderful Dogs

Axel We find most of our dogs in local shelters and pounds where they have run out of time to be reclaimed or adopted, and are in danger of being euthanized. We will occasionally take in dogs from the legal owner (see Giving Us A Dog), but our primary purpose is to save dogs that have run out of time in kill shelters.

We look for purebred German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) who have a good temperament, are reasonably healthy, and would make a good family pet. Occasionally we take in a dog with special needs, but for the most part our dogs need only basic care, attention, training, and love to be adopted.

All of our dogs are spayed or neutered, as California state law mandates that dogs must be spayed or neutered before being adopted out by a rescue or shelter. See California Food & Agriculture Code Section 30503.

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**Greater California German Shepherd Rescue 2019 Calendars are now available to order.

GCGSR 2018 Calendar

Meeting Our Dogs

We are not a shelter, we have no facility. All of our dogs are in volunteer foster homes spread throughout the Modesto/Merced, Greater Sacramento, and South Lake Tahoe, and occasionally parts of the North and East SF Bay areas. The best way to see many of our dogs at once is to come to one of our regular monthly Adoption Days in Modesto, Rancho Cordova (Sacramento area) & Roseville. Not all dogs come to all Adoption Days, potential adopters may have to travel to meet a dog they are interested in.

Adoption Policies

A new online Adoption Questionnaire and Supplemental Puppy Questionnaire is now available on the Adoption Info page.

Please read our Adoption Policies and send in an Adoption Questionnaire before contacting us about an individual dog.


Please read our special Requirements for Adopting a Puppy and note that we have an additional Puppy Questionnaire for puppies under 7 months old.


We have a 30-day Foster-to-Adopt program that gives prospective adopters a month to foster the dog in their home before adopting. We want to know that the match is a good one! We actively encourage Foster-to-Adopt, and may require it with some dogs. Please read our Foster-to-Adopt Agreement if you're interested in our program.

Dogs currently in Foster-to-Adopt homes are considered Adoption Pending and are no longer available.

Living Creatures

Dogs are living, breathing, sentient creatures that each come with their own personality and set of characteristics, just like people. Because we rarely know the backgrounds of the dogs in our program, we can't make definitive statements about their health or temperaments. We can only provide information about our observations of the dog while it is in our program with our volunteers.

"German Shepherds have great instincts and fertile minds. Lots of activity and exercise will make them happy, but tracking, obedience and agility games—or any task-oriented activity—will make them even happier. A bored or neglected German Shepherd may resort to chewing furniture, digging up flowers and other mischief."

Special Needs & Senior Dogs

Most of our dogs are healthy and only require normal care. Sometimes we'll find that one of our dogs has special needs or ongoing medical issues, or is a very nice senior dog with some manageable health issues. Because these dogs will have ongoing, generally reasonable expenses, the adoption fee is reduced.

Senior dogs are 8-9 years old or more.

Duke Ellington Head


Duke Ellington

Duke is a 2-year-old male with a medium energy level. A professional trainer purchased him as a puppy. She closed her facility and asked us to find him a home. We soon saw he needed cataract surgery. The generosity of supporters allowed us to have that done for him and he is doing great.

While she did leash train him well, she left him kennelled and only walked him on the property. Because of this lack of socializing, he is fearful of new things. He never acts out negatively, but hides in a corner to escape. New people must earn his trust. He trusts his foster mom, but unexpected movements from even kids in the foster home make him nervous. He warms up quickly to new dogs and loves to play with them. He does well with cats. He is well mannered, both indoors and out.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added November 2018


Lola A Head


Lola A

Lola A is 7-8 years old weighing 69 lbs. She was originally a stray from the Napa area and nothing is known of her original start in life. Lola may have gray around the muzzle, but she still needs her daily walks and on occasion will bounce around you like a puppy. When she was about 3-4 years old she was heartworm positive, but has been treated with no complications or problems since then.

She is housebroken, crate trained, knows basic commands, and loves car rides. She has tried to sneak onto the bed and a couch, but with one verbal command to get off, she has not tried it again. Her other house manners are excellent. This smart girl has learned to open doors with flipper handles, so they must be locked to keep her in or out of areas she's not allowed.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Updated May 2019


Pacino Head



Pacino is a handsome, 88 lb sable boy who is approximately 6.5 years young. He was a stray out of a local shelter so nothing is known of his background.

This sweet, middle aged gentleman is such an easy guy to have around the house! It appears that indoor living was new to him, but he has learned to enjoy the good life! He is housetrained with use of a doggie door, and is left indoors with his foster sister while his foster mom goes out during the day. He will sleep quietly in his crate at night, but has also been trustworthy enough to sleep loose in the house.

Although he is not a spring chicken, he still has quite a bit of play left in him and will try to engage other large dogs to play.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added December 2018


Adult Dogs

Most of the dogs come into our program as adolescents or young adults between 1-2 years old. While they may have their adult size, German Shepherds are generally not fully mature until around 3 years old. This means young, adult-sized, dogs may still be very much puppies emotionally and mentally, and still need a lot of training and socialization.

The Adoption Fee for Adult Dogs is $300.

Nori Head


Nori is a very handsome 12-18 month black long coat male (potentially some Belgian Sheepdog in his genes). He came to us from a local shelter so nothing is known about his background. This happy boy has a high level of energy and loves to play play play. He has learned he loves the inside life and wants to be with his favorite people.

Nori is housebroken with the use of a dog door. He is learning basic commands and how to walk nicely on a leash. He knows he is supposed to sit before being fed but he is reluctant to stop moving long enough to sit still sometimes. Nori is still a young boy who picks up and chews most things he can find. He can often be redirected to an appropriate, dog-approved toy but beware, shoes are still the most exciting item for him.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what this level of dog requires.

Added May 2019


Ramena Head


Ramena is a petite Sable GSD Mix weighing 50 lbs. She is approximately 10 - 12 months old. She came to us when a Good Sam rescued her after his neighbors moved and abandoned her on their property.

She is currently fostered in a home with 2 adult females and 3 adult male GSDs. She plays well with everyone. She is crate-trained, often putting herself to bed. She is house broken and will go to the door and bump the doorknob with her nose to let you know she wants out.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added March 2019


Shaggy Head


Shag is 7 years old male GSD.  He has a beautiful black and tan long fluffy coat.  He weighs approximately 75 lbs and could stand to lose about 5 lbs.


This is his second time in rescue.  GCGSR adopted him out at the age of 6 months, 6.5 years ago.  Shag somehow through no fault of his own, found himself dumped at a shelter.  He is micro-chipped so the shelter called us and we picked him up.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what a dog of this Level requires.

Added September 2018, updated April 2019


Suarez Head


Suarez is a handsome 18 month old sable male. He came to us through a local shelter so little is known of his background. He originally tested as heart-worm positive but has successfully completed his treatment.

While Suarez can be nervous in new environments and with new people, once he gets comfortable, this young boy is very affectionate and just wants to be with his humans.

Suarez is always excited to go out for walks and walks well on a leash. He knows some basic commands such as sit and has learned to sit and wait for his food or to come in from outside. He appears housebroken and is OK in a crate.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what this level of dog requires.

Added April 2018


Tyra Head


Tyra is an energetic 4-year-old that is black with silver feet. She was abandoned at a boarding facility several years ago. The facility closed and asked us to find her a home.

Since coming to us she has learned the joys of playing fetch and riding in the car. She's shy around new people and places but is improving. At home she gets very excited to see people she knows and jumps up. She will sit when reminded. Tyra gets along with other dogs but doesn't initiate play.

Tyra needs a foster home.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what this level of dog requires.

Added October 2018


Venice Head


Venice is a gorgeous, smart, petite black and tan long coat. She is about 2.5 years old and weighs about 54 lbs. She is a fun, engaging girl. Her previous owner realized that she needs more time and exercise to be at her best.

Currently, she lives with a calm, male German Shepherd. She enlists him to play chase throughout the day around a large yard as well as after a walk or run. She is learning to wait her turn. When greeting her foster family at the door, being fed, getting leashed for a walk, or loading into the car, she sometimes needs a reminder to be patient with the resident dog and not push or nip to get ahead of him.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what this level of dog requires.

Added March 2019


Zirka Head


Zirka is a 2-3 year old slender female Belgium Malinois who ended up in the shelter with a tramatic injury to her rear leg. She was found to also have a dislocated hip, and had surgery to help correct that injury. She has almost fully recovered and has regained close to full use of her leg.

She is very friendly with the dogs she has met so far, and is currently living with 4 to 10 other dogs in her foster home. Zirka will chase squirrels around the ranch where she is living, and likes to try and catch frogs that live in the pond.

This is a Level 3 Dog. Please be sure you understand what this level of dog requires.

Added August 2018



We rarely get puppies (6 months and under) and when we do, we want to make sure they have the very best start in life. Please see our Requirements for Adopting a Puppy. We also have a Supplemental Puppy Questionnaire just for puppies. Yes, we are very picky about our puppy homes, since we see so many adolescent dogs in the shelters who have outgrown their cute little puppy stage and have been left at the shelter!

The Adoption Fee for our Puppies is $350.

We do not put holds on puppies. If you would like to meet one of our puppies, please send in your Adoption Questionnaire and Puppy Questionnaire! See Adoption Info.

Still Looking?

Can't find a dog you've been looking at? Check our Adoption Pending page to see if the dog has gone to a new Foster-to-Adopt home, or our Recent Adoptions page to see if the dog has been adopted.

Didn't find exactly the dog you'd like to adopt? Check out the Owner Referral Dogs for other dogs that aren't in our program.

Courtesy Listings

Owner Referrals & Independent Rescuers

We will list spayed/neutered and vaccinated German Shepherd Dogs or mostly-GSDs for owners or other smaller rescuers who wish to rehome their own dogs on our Owner Referral Dogs page. These dogs are not in our program and we can make no assurances about the accuracy of the listings.  

Lost Dogs

Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing a beloved companion. We will post your missing dog for you on our Lost Dogs page!


GCGSR Dog Rating Levels

Please note there are no universal Rating Levels for dogs; this is how we rate OUR dogs. Other groups may use different rating levels for their dogs.

All German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) share certain traits, that's what makes them a German Shepherd. These dogs generally mature into serious individuals and tend to be more discriminating about their circle of friends. Most are not "dogpark" dogs as adults.

ALL German Shepherds:

  • Are intelligent, energetic, powerful, alert, bossy, noisy and mouthy (like to use their teeth)
  • Are protective, possessive and territorial, and usually won’t let strangers walk in the door
  • Are control freaks with strong herding drive (instincts), and usually have strong prey drive
  • Shed all year long, and will shed twice as heavily in the spring and fall
  • Need ongoing socialization, structure, leadership, exercise, training and affection
  • Need to be made a part of the family, and are not good as outside-only dogs
  • Need a purpose in life, or will find their own amusements by barking, chewing, digging and escaping

The Dog Rating Levels are based on the GSD’s inherent drives, confidence, attitude and personality. The higher the Rating Level, the more confident and demanding the dog is, and the more of everything the dog will require. Young dogs under 2 years old will probably mature up a Level. Don’t mistake a smaller size for an easier dog!
Note: Any dog can exhibit atypical behavior under stressful conditions.

Level 1 – Soft & Submissive

  • Very submissive, born followers not interested in taking a leadership role. Willing to go along and get along, and try to avoid trouble. Sweet, soft, mellow or timid, can easily be overwhelmed.
  • Usually Low to Moderate Energy. May need socializing, housebreaking, house manners. Suitable for senior or sedentary households, will enjoy occasional walks, trips in the car, or light play sessions.
  • If needs are not met, can become clingy, needy, fearful or overly-submissive. Can submissively urinate, can develop Separation Anxiety.
  • This level is rare for this breed.

Level 2 – Moderate & Adaptable

  • Balanced mix of confidence and submissiveness. Middle of the road dogs, fairly eager to please. Will occasionally test leadership abilities, but really don’t want to be the leader.
  • Usually Moderate Energy, can range from Low to High, which can be satisfied with daily walks and play or training time. Need some basic obedience lessons, then may need occasional refresher courses.
  • If needs are not met, can be insecure leaders and can become overly protective, possessive, and territorial. Can develop Separation Anxiety.
  • This level fits the widest variety of households.

Level 3 – Confident & Challenging

  • Confident with very little submissiveness, the standard breed temperament. Assertive and pushy, will challenge leadership status. Independent problem-solvers that will try to out-think their owners.
  • Usually Moderate to High Energy. Need a job, with physical and mental exercise regularly for life.
  • If needs are not met, can take over household in a hot second. Can become destructive or escapists.
  • This is the most common level in rescue.

Level 4 – Competitive & Intense

  • Very confident, very pushy, extremely competitive, adrenaline junkies. Usually ball, toy or prey obsessed. Very high drive and high focus, will often scream, whine and nip in frustration to DO SOMETHING, NOW!
  • Very High Energy, always in high gear. Need several hours of physical and mental challenge every day, live to outwit, outplay and outlast everyone else. Never slow down, never wear out, never shut up.
  • If needs are not met, can become obsessive and very destructive.
  • Ideal for working K9 dogs or for competitive dog sports such as agility, flyball, herding and Schutzhund.

Level 5 – Tough & Serious

  • Supremely confident, have high energy, high focus, and high fight drive. Love to fight, and willing to back everything up with their teeth. Serious dogs who measure everyone for weakness. True tough guys, will never give up and will go down fighting.
  • Very High Energy. Needs highly structured life with a full-time job. Not suitable for the family home.
  • If needs are not met, can bite and become dominantly aggressive.
  • We will never knowingly bring this dog into rescue.

Adoption Days

From 11 am to 2 pm every month, rain or shine, at these locations!
For directions, please see our Events Calendar page.

Riverbank (Modesto)
Second Saturday of every month in Riverbank (Modesto):
Crossroads Shopping Center
2341 Claribel Road
Riverbank, CA 95367
(209) 863-1384


Third Saturday of every month in Sacramento:
Pet Food Express
Loehmann's Plaza
2531 Fair Oaks Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 487-9999
(between Fair Oaks and Munroe - halfway between Watt and Howe)


Fourth Saturday of every month in Roseville:
Pet Food Express

The Fountains
1009 Galleria Blvd
Roseville, CA 95678
(916) 780-5555