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.

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
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.

Drake Head


Special Needs

Drake is a handsome, large, 100 pound, black and tan 5 year old male. He originally was an owner surrender when his family lost their home. He was adopted out about 18 months ago, and was recently returned when his family could no longer care for him. Drake loves getting attention and being around his people. He is very loving and friendly to everyone he meets, but could use consistent socialization.

Drake has epilepsy. His regimen is one pill twice a day, and liquid medicine once a day. Currently the cost of the medication is about $65.00 a month. Research could be done to determine if there is a less expensive place to purchase the medications. Drake's previous family reports about one seizure a month, we are working with the vet to see if any medication changes need to be made to see if this can be reduced. His current follow-up blood work looks good.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added June 2014


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 menul y, and still need a lot of training and socialization.

The Adoption Fee for Adult Dogs is $300.

Annika Head


Annika is an approximately 2 year old, all black female weighing about 65 lbs, but could stand to put on a few pounds. She was a stray from a Sacramento shelter so nothing is known of her back ground. It does not appear that anyone spent time teaching this girl any commands or how to settle down inside the house. Annika was in a home for about a month where she was left alone for many hours during the day with run of the house and yard. She became a digger and did not behave with good house manners when unsupervised.

At her current foster home, someone is home much of the time and she isn't allowed on the furniture and hasn't done damage to the yard. She is living with two other male German Shepherds and for a short time with another female German Shepherd.

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

Added August 2014


Black Jack Head

Black Jack

Black Jack is an all-black approximately 6 year old Male GSD. He is a good sized boy weighing in at approximately 90 lbs. He was surrendered by his owner when she moved to a senior living complex that did not allow large dogs.

He is a very smart boy, who knows his basic commands. He is house broken and loves to ride in the car. He starts out like a freight train on a leash, but settles down and heals nicely after about 10 minutes of walking and corrections. He is friendly and affectionate towards humans, but due to his extremely high ball drive, he would be best in a home with adults and older children, or adults only. He will drop his ball in your lap and sits fixated until you throw the ball.fen

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

Added August 2014


Braxton Head


Braxton is an 11 month old, 75 lb bundle of love.

He is housebroken and will give one yip at the door to go out. He happily sleeps through the night in a crate, and has put up with being crated for a few hours at a time during the day.

His previous family had children and cats, Hand he now lives with two adult GSDs and plays all the time-even when they get rough. He will throw his bone or toy in the air and chase it around when his foster brother and sister tire of playing with him. When it is time for a walk he will try to put his head through the collar because he is so excited to go! During the walk he loves the attention he gets from people, sitting while they pat him. With very little correction he heels nicely, sits on command, and will lie down.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2014


Candy Head


Candy was an unclaimed stray from the Modesto area so nothing is known about her background. She has a shiny black coat with a few tan hairs on her legs and between her toes. We have estimated her age at around 4-5 years old. She weighs an ideal 65 lbs with has been deemed very healthy other than well-worn teeth.

Candy is as sweet as her name and appears to have lived in a home before. She seems perfectly comfortable in a home, has nice house manners, it is just a little tough to get her to go outside on occasion, although she loves her walks. Candy loves having a soft dog bed to lay on, and she loves following her person from room to room. She sleeps loose in her fosters' room on a soft dog bed.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added September 2014


Cindy-Lou Head


Cindy-Lou is an adorable petite Dutch shepherd mix. At about two years old she weighs in at about 42lbs. Cindy-Lou was found by a good Samaritan who kept her a couple weeks while trying to find the owner, then surrendered her to a local shelter so not much is known about her background.

Cindy-Lou is a bundle of energy and loves to play play play with a couple of her foster brothers. You would never know she is only half their size as she seems to get the best of them. After a proper introduction, Cindy-Lou has gotten along with all of the large dogs in her foster home, but no small dogs or other small furry critters for this girl. Cindy-Lou likes to play ball, but is easily distracted by flying insects or other more interesting things.


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

Added January 2014


Cruiser Head


At 122 lbs, this king-sized 5.5 year old could afford to lose 20+ lbs and will still be quite a big boy. He was an owner surrender because he could not leave the neighborhood livestock alone, and the owner was unable to provide secure fencing. Cruiser is laid back and in most other ways is a gentle giant. He looks older than his years with a gray muzzle, elbow callouses, and ears that have signs of fly strike, likely due to spending most of his life outdoors. Much of the world is new to him, but he has been learning quickly, gaining confidence, and understands basics. He is easy on leash, only giving it a good tug when he wishes to greet another dog. Cruiser knows "sit" and is housebroken.

Although Cruiser did not have a lot of human handling, he simply likes being with people. He enjoys car rides, usually claiming the spot behind the driver, and quietly lets you enjoy your coffee before taking your morning walk together. On hikes, he only occasionally ventures off to take in scents and greets new dogs with wags.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added November 2014


Ella Head


Ella is a 5-6 year old beautiful redheaded female. Our best guess is that she is a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, and is medium size weighing in at about 70lbs. Ella was originally adopted out of a local shelter, but was returned for jumping the fence.

In her current foster home, Ella is outside during the day with two foster brothers while her people are at work, and she doesn't seem to have any interest in jumping the 6' horse fencing. Ella likes all of the large male and female dogs in her foster home. She loves to play with the boys, and is quite active. She has had one opportunity to be introduced to a cat, and she was a little unsure about it. With supervision and training, Ella might be able to live with a cat.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added June 2014


Fendi Head


Fendi is an all black 3-4 year old girl that came into Rescue from the Modesto Shelter. She was severely overweight, weighing in at over 90 pounds on a significantly smaller frame. She has lost some pounds and is now fairly close to her ideal weight of 75 pounds. She was picked up as a stray, so nothing is known of her background, although she was obviously cared for and free fed.

Fendi can be a little reactive to unknown or unfamiliar dogs, but corrects easily, and is very affectionate and attentive to her person. She readily jumps up into the cab of a vehicle, and travels very nicely in a car. She walks on leash, with just a little bit of pulling, but again, corrects nicely.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added July 2014


Mario Head


Mario is a 5-6 year old German Shepherd/Lab mix with a short, dark brown coat. He lived for several years in a no-kill shelter and came to us when they could no longer house dogs.

He is friendly and enjoys meeting people. He is now in a foster home and is happily learning house rules. He gets along well with other dogs. He can learn to live with cats. He has an old injury to a back leg, but does fine on walks. He is low energy in the house and happily sleeps in a crate at night.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added March 2014


Porsche Head


Porsche aka Momma is a sweet female who recently raised the five luxury speedster pups, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, DeLoreon, and Maserati. She was surrendered to a Sacramento shelter in December 2013, almost ready to give birth, but nothing was known of her background. She now weighs 67 lbs and is approximately 2 years old.

Although asymptomatic in February, she tested positive for heartworms and has now been treated and off restriction from physical activity. She is our Rainbow Fund dog and donations to help with her treatment are always welcome and sorely needed. Her foster mom describes her energy level as moderate.

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

Updated May 2014


Savannah May Head

Savannah May

Savannah May is a 4-5 year old bicolored large female, weighing a solid 85 pounds. She was a confiscated dog from the Modesto Shelter, taken from a hoarding situation. Nothing else is known of her background.

Although she reportedly lived with other dogs, she is a very dominant female, who would not do well in a home with smaller dogs or cats. She would be fine in an only dog setting or with another larger male dog.

Savannah May is very people friendly and social and would make a super companion for an experienced handler. Since she has been in a boarding situation for a couple weeks, it is unknown if she is housebroken, or has house manners.

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

Added June 2014


Skye Head


Skye is a cute and adorable Blue female German Shepherd Dog. At approximately 1 year old, this moderately sized girl weighs in at about 58 pounds. Skye was an owner surrender - her owners had her only 1 week - to a Sacramento area shelter, so very little is known about her background.

Skye is currently in a foster home with two large male GSDs and a medium sized male 6-month-old puppy. She gets along with all of them, and she can keep up with the big boys when it comes to rough and tumble playtime. She has a bit of a bossy nature about her and will tell the boys what to do and when to do it, as she tries to entice them into a rough-housing game of chase. The puppy gets a "pass", but this little girl will be to bossy, pushy and snarky (dominant) for any dog (male or female) her size or smaller.

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

Added July 2014


Spice Head


Spice is approximately 5 years old and weighs 66 pounds. She has a beautiful, shiny black coat. Picked up as a stray from a Modesto Shelter, so nothing is known of her background. She has had puppies, and was likely used as a breeding dog. Spice is very friendly, affectionate, and loves to give kisses, but is not pushy. This girl has a very calm, easy-going demeanor.

She is currently in a home with two male shepherds and met them easily. She is very polite around the other dogs and meets new dogs in the same manner. Cats are not an issue around Spice. In fact, she appears to want to avoid them if possible. She seems to be housebroken and prefers to be inside.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added July 2014


Wyatt Head


Wyatt is a large 7-8 month old male, weighing just over 70 lbs, with a thick black and tan coat. This boy was an owner surrender to a Sacramento area shelter when his previous family had personal and physical issues causing them to give him up.

Wyatt lived with two young children and a miniature schnauzer previously, however care should be given around small dogs and children due to Wyatt's size, and he's still growing! Primarily kept outdoors, he now prefers the comforts of being indoors and does take coaxing to get him to go out. Not realizing his size, he wants to be a lap dog and be cuddled.

He is currently living in a home with a young female shepherd and they love to play together. Being young, he will dig and chew if he's not properly supervised.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added November 2014


Zalinka Head


Zalinka is an 18-24 month old malinois mix. She was an unclaimed stray from a Modesto shelter so nothing is known of her background. At less than 30 lbs, she resembles a mini or toy Malinois.

It appears she may have been a couch queen in her prior home as she is housebroken (although has not mastered the use of a doggy door) but not used to strenuous play at the moment. Regular exercise and conditioning should help her with her stamina and muscle tone. In her current foster home, she is living with two large dogs and one small dog about her size. She plays well with the small dog in the house.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 2014



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 szaatary 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.

First Saturday of every month in Modesto:
2100 McHenry Ave
Modesto CA 95350
(209) 574-0441

Third Saturday of every month in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento):
10830 Olson Drive
Rancho Cordova CA 95670
(916) 851-1813

Fourth Saturday of every month in Roseville:
Pet Food Express

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