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.

**NEW** Greater California German Shepherd Rescue 2018 Calendars are now available to PRE-order.

GCGSR 2018 Calendar Order Form

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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.

Adoption Fee for these Special or Senior Dogs is $100.

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.

Amberlee Head


Amberlee was found living under a car and staying at the same area where she was left abandoned with some food and water. She waited for her guardians to return for two weeks and ran from anybody that tried to approach her. Her rescuers worked for days feeding her and trying to gain her trust. One day she allowed them to touch her and now she is safe with the rescue and looking for a new loving forever home.

This lovely 3-4 year old girl is goofy, lovable, gentle and wants nothing more than to be by your side. She will cuddle with you on the couch, stretch out by your feet and just wants to please you.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2017


Bhalu Head


Bhalu is a black and tan male weighing about 60 lbs, but needs to gain weight. We estimate his age as approximately 3 years. He is a stray from a Sacramento area shelter so nothing is known about his past. He was found extremely underweight with patches of hair loss due to poor nutrition, allergies and lack of proper care. In addition, Bhalu is heartworm positive and will complete his treatment by mid November.

He is gentle and affectionate, and enjoys meeting all dogs and humans. He enjoys car rides, adventures to the lake, and his daily walks. He sleeps in his crate at night and is house broken.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2017


Beary Head


Beary is a 4 year old black and tan female who was surrendered by her owners because they were unable to manage her multiple medical conditions. She came to us weighing about 60 lbs and very underweight, missing much of her hair, hematomas on one ear and in need of dental care. Since she was relinquished, she has been treated for wide-spread skin and ear infections, provided a dental cleaning which involved pulling a few teeth, as well as removing a hematoma on the right ear. There is evidence that she had at least one litter of puppies in the past. Despite all these challenges, Beary is recovering nicely and showing rapid regrowth of her beautiful coat. Her right ear, however, will remain flaccid.

Beary is one of the keenest dogs that has entered rescue. She successfully unlocked several doors, including her kennel and indoor locks with deadbolts, to search for her human. Secure containment is necessary when left alone until she learns her new routine.

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

Added September 2017


Bochy Head


Bochy is a handsome black and tan 2-year-old male with floppy ears. He is currently overweight at about 95 lbs, but he's energetic and with regular exercise he should be able to lose another 15-20 lbs to get to a healthy weight. One photo shows a recent photo of Bochy and the other is how he looked last September at a healthy weight.

Originally an owner surrender in Sept. 2016, when his family's child became sick and they didn't have time to care for Bochy; he was adopted from us but returned after six months. The second family didn't spend time training or working with him and he became too much for them to handle.

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

Added July 2017


Buster Head


Buster is a 4.5 year old male black & tan German Shepherd with one floppy ear. He weighs about 89 lbs and is on a diet to lose a few pounds. He was originally adopted from GCGSR at the age of 18 months where he shared his home with another dog. He was recently relinquished because the owner will be moving and is unable to take him along. Despite this change, he has adapted rapidly to his new foster home, sharing his life with another GCGSR foster dog. He doesn't seem interested in playing with the other dog, as he prefers to be by his human.

Buster enjoys the presence and attention of all humans, and is comfortable in the presence of other dogs, both large and small. He will benefit from firm boundaries to prevent attachment to or claiming of his human.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added August 2017


DogName Head


Cassius (Cash) is an 8 month old black and tan German Shepherd Mix. He is one of 3 puppies who were surrendered to us by a Good Samaritan who took in their pregnant Momma when she was dumped on their property. Cheyenne and Decker have both found homes, and Cash is looking forward to the day when he will have a family of his own as well.

He is housebroken, rides well in a car, and does great on a leash. Cash is a great alarm barker. He is a little shy at first, but once he gets to know you, he loves to give kisses and have his belly rubbed.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added July 2017


Chloe May

Chloe May

Chloe May is a lovely black and tan female who is about 6 years old and who weighs about 82 lbs. She was found in a rural area of Merced County, so nothing is known of his background. It appears she has had several litters and was kept outdoors for most of her life. Chloe has had a long time skin condition, and evidence of her skin irritations, and worn down teeth says she has been scratching and itching for a long time. Now that she is on good food and in a healthy home, she is thriving and her skin and coat look great.

She readily jumps up in the car for a ride, and has appropriately greeted everyone she has met so far.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added August 2016


Grace Head


Grace is a pretty black and tan female, approximately 6 years old now. Animal Control picked her up in a small rural town in Yolo County, and her family never came for her. She was adopted out around a year ago and was recently returned because she was too much to handle for her new owners.

Grace is a nice, friendly girl but is a little timid with new people and she needs to be properly introduced. She knows basic commands and can walk on a leash fairly well. She is house trained and currently left free in the house when left alone; she has a dog door to go outside whenever she wants to.

No cats or small furry critters!

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

Updated January 2017, Added October 2015


Griff Head


Griff is a strong, handsome black and tan male, weighing 90 lbs, and is approximately 3 years old. He is a stray from a Yolo County shelter, so we have no information on his background. Sometime in Griff's past, something created a scar across his muzzle, but it doesn't take away from his ability to take great pictures.

Griff has nice house manners, only moving things around being silly, not damaging anything. He knows basic commands, including sitting before going through doors, and sitting before being allowed to eat. He currently sleeps on the floor in his foster's bedroom and is very quiet. He walks nicely on a leash, but can get excited when he sees other dogs.

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

Added February 2017


Gus A. Head

Gus A.

Gus A. is a big, strong, handsome black and tan boy who is about 6-7 years old, and 90lbs. Gus was picked up as a stray and taken to the Solano shelter, so nothing is known of his background.

He's a very loving, affectionate dog who will do his best to please his person but the big fellow did not get the training he needed as a youngster. He's learning to walk nicely on a leash and other basics, and with consistent handling and training, Gus will be a devoted, wonderful family member.

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

Added August 2017


Kramer Head


Kramer is an enthusiastic black and tan male around 2 years old who we pulled from a local shelter. He came into the rescue at an underweight 70 lbs and will be at his ideal weight when he gains around 15 more. His tall, handsome appearance gets him attention and compliments around town. He is affectionate around the house, is gentle when taking treats from your hand and enjoys a good belly rub when he gets one. His food motivation makes training him much easier. He understands the basics, including being housebroken, although 'down' is his least favorite.

He quickly jumps into the car and enjoys riding to everywhere. When you're in the store, he keeps the driver's seat warm and has learned "jump in the back" as you approach to give your spot back. Kramer is being fostered in the Lake Tahoe area and is becoming an outdoorsy boy who is learning to be a great hiking buddy. It has also been entertaining watching him learn how to swim, as he is still a bit clumsy but willing to give the water a try.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2017


Lara A. Head

Lara A.

Lara A. is a sweetheart, four-year old, black and tan female, who weighs about 70 lb. She was an owner surrender to a local area shelter, so little is know of her background.

With a little basic training she has blossomed into a wonderful, loving dog. She gets along well with other dogs loves all the people she has met and will make a wonderful addition to a family that will make her an active member.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2017


Lola A. Head

Lola A.

Lola A. is a lovely black and tan female who is approximately 6 - 8 years old and weighs in at around 75lbs. She was a stray from a local area shelter so little is known of her background.

Lola is about as sweet as a dog can get. She loves to go for rides in the car and makes friends wherever she goes, is crate trained and housebroken, and walks nicely on leash.

She was heartworm positive when rescued and has come through the treatment with flying colors, becoming a favorite patient at the vets office in the process.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2017


Taz Head


Taz is an approximate two year old, black and tan male weighing 66 lbs. He is an energetic companion dog and has a good appetite. He was surrendered to a Sacramento area shelter, but nothing is known about his past.

Taz loves squeaky toys (but not interested in chasing balls), to follow his human around the house, and to go for car rides. He is undergoing crate training now. He may cry on the first night or so with you, since he isn't fond of being left alone.

He heals beautifully and corrects easily. Taz has been friendly and confident with other humans, including with the neighbor kids, and does good around other large dogs.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added October 2017


Tokki Head


Tokki is a petite female approximately 8 months old weighing about 50 lbs, but she may still have some growing to do. She was an unclaimed stray from Yolo County so her background is unknown.

Tokki is sweet and enjoys getting all the attention from her people. She is food motivated and knows some basic commands; sit, wait and leave it. She is still learning house manners, not to counter surf, not to jump on people, and she is learning to enjoy walks on a leash.

Currently, Tokki is living with a large male German Shepherd and three dog-savvy cats.

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

Added September 2017



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.

Staraya Head


Staraya is a 5 month old longcoated female. She was a stray from the Merced shelter, so nothing is known of her background.

Staraya has a unsteady gait. X-rays revealed that she does have hip dysplasia. The vet recommended she not have surgery, but wait until she is grown to see how her hips develop. She has anti-inflammatories and pain medication to take as needed.

Staraya has the perfect combination of affection and independence. She loves to be brushed and hugged, but will go entertain herself if you are busy (usually appropriate chewing or napping). She has a low energy level, but loves car rides and walks.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added August 2017


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.

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

** New Location **

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