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 Ellington is an all black 2 year old with special needs, he has developed cataracts and has limited vision. (He may be a candidate for an expensive cataract surgery, but further testing is needed). He cannot see small objects, chain link fencing, or in dim light very well. A professional trainer purchased him as a puppy and did some initial obedience training. She has decided to close her facility and asked us to find Duke a home.

Duke is good with cats and loves other dogs. Because of his lack of socialization as a puppy, he is fearful around people and new things.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added November 2018


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Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson is a handsome 6-year-old solid black male with a medium-low energy level weighing about 90 lbs. He was taken to a boarding kennel several years ago after killing chickens. The boarding kennel is closing and asked us to find him a home.

Harley has been diagnosed with perianal fistulas. We are just beginning treatment, but the medicines can cost about $200 a month or more. We are starting at the lowest possible dose and hope he responds well. If the medicines need to be increased, so will the expenses.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added September 2018


Zonda Head



Zonda is a charming 9 year old female Malinois mix that was adopted out from us in 2010, then returned when one of the adult children moved in with the grandkids and Zonda gave the young toddler a warning snap, so no young kids for this girl.

This cute redhead is a house princess, has excellent manners, loves having a dog door, and has some nice training under her belt. Miss Zonda is an active and energetic girl who loves to go on car rides or for her daily walk. She is happy to go 2-3 miles and gets very excited when the leash comes out. She likes going along beside the bicycle, but isn't as young as she used to be, so care needs to be taken so she doesn't overdo it.

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

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.

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Athena May

Athena May is a 3 year old black and tan female with very soulful eyes. She currently is in need of losing at least 15 lbs, but regular exercise and limiting her food intake should help get her back in shape in no time. She was surrendered to us by a Good Samaritan who took her in when her roommate abandoned her at her local shelter.

Athena is housebroken and has great house manners. She knows basic commands and has been good with all the children she has met. She has moderate to high energy and does best when exercised daily (long hikes or runs) to burn some of the energy and calories off.

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

Added October 2018


Collette Head


Collette is a petite, 7-8 month old female weighing about 45 lbs. She's almost all black but has a few strands of white on her chest. This girl was from a local shelter so nothing is known about her start in life.

She is currently living with three German Shepherds and met several other dogs of all sizes recently. She is great meeting new dogs and will back away if any of them signal her to get away. If she has an opportunity to be with a dog her size that's playful, she'll play for hours. She also likes to chase tennis balls and carry them back, but doesn't quite understand the bringing it back part. If no human stays outside with her, Collette will go to a window and wait and watch the people inside, even if her play buddy is left out with her.

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

Added March 2019


Elly May Head

Elly May

Elly May aka Elly is a beautiful 8 month old sable female weighing almost 70 lbs. She came to rescue when the owner was told she couldn't keep her. In Elly's short life she's had two families and has successfully lived with a lab and a small dog.

Elly is now in a foster home with a cat and three other dogs, a German Shepherd and two border collies. She doesn't know what to make of the cat, but hasn't tried to hurt it. She is affectionate and rides well in the car.

Elly barks at her own reflection and barks at the dogs through windows if she sees them outside. This young girl still acts like a big puppy.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added November 2018


Gregor Head


Gregor is a handsome 2.5 year old all black male. At about 80 lbs, he is on the thin side and could stand to put on a few pounds. He was surrendered by his previous owners when the husband became sick and they were unable to care for or exercise Gregor properly.

Currently in a foster home with a large female German Shepherd and a smaller dachshund, he gets along great with them. Gregor has medium energy. He loves to travel and be outside with his family.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added March 2019


Janis Head


Janis is a beautiful, petite sable female, approximately two years old, weighing about 55 lbs. She originally came into the program as a stray from a local shelter and was adopted in December 2017, but was recently returned when her owner became unable to care for her.

Janis is initially hesitant and shy in new surroundings and would retreat often to the security of her crate, but is quickly getting used to the dynamics in her foster home. Because of her lack of confidence, Janis would benefit from another confident male dog in her new home to help her feel more at ease.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added March 2019


Pacino Head


Pacino is a handsome, 80 lb sable boy who is approximately 6 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 is new to him, but he is learning to enjoy the good life!

He is housetrained with use of a doggie door, and is left indoors with his foster brothers and sister while his foster mom is at work during the day. He is learning the rules in his foster home and responds well to corrections. He will sleep quietly in his crate at night, but has also been trustworthy enough to sleep loose in the house.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added December 2018


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


Shaggy is 6 year young, long hair, german shepherd male. Shaggy was adopted six years ago however, his owners surrendered him to a local animal shelter in horrendous condition. Nothing else is known of his background.

Shaggy appears to have been an outdoor only dog. He is now learning house manners and enjoying being indoors. Shaggy has a bacterial skin infection which has caused him to loose alot of his fur. Through a combination of shampoo therapy and antibiotics, his fur growth is excellent. Shaggy is grateful for all the medical care he's received thus far as he is always wagging his tail and happy to be with people.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added September 2018


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


Zurich Head


Zürich is a 12-18 month old male shepherd. He is mostly tan with black tips and a black stripe on this tail so he may have a bit of Belgian Malinois mixed in.

Zürich seems to be experiencing much of the world for the first time. He seems new to the house, crate, car, walking on leash. He takes most of it in stride, but can be a little reactive when he is unsure of things. He can also be mouthy if he if he is unsure or doesn't like what you are trying to get him to do (like go in a crate.). Zürich seems to be almost housebroken, pacing when he needs to go out. He does better when his human goes out with him to ensure he finishes his business especially when it is raining. He wants to make sure he isn't going to be left outside.

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

Added February 2019



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