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.

Cinnamon Head



Cinnamon is a sweet, black and tan female. She was an unclaimed stray from a Sacramento area shelter, so little is known of her background. Her age is between 6-8 years old, and she has had one or more litters of puppies in the past. She likely had several untreated ear infections, which explains her cauliflower ears.

Currently, Cinnamon lives with a younger male German Shepherd and cats. She does well with all of them, although she does not seem interested in playing with her foster brother.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added June 2016


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.

Astro Head


Astro is a sable 2 - 3 year old male German Shepherd with helicopter ears. He weighs about 90 lbs. He was returned by his owners when they could no longer give him the attention and exercise he needs, after the birth of their baby.

He was living with a Female GSD in his previous home, and got along well with her. He is slow to accept other dogs, and care will need to be taken when introducing him to other dogs, as he is quite dominant. He is currently being fostered in a home with a female GSD and 2 adult male GSDs. He prefers the company of the female GSD.

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

Re-Introduced June 2016


Celestra Head


Celestra is a 5 year old black and tan girl and weights about 75 pounds. She was an unclaimed stray from Modesto Shelter. She was picked up at a local Vet Hospital where she had been taken by a good Samaritan who found her injured, possibly hit by a car, and suffering from a broken front leg. When no owner came forward during her time in the shelter, she came into rescue where her leg was properly treated. She is expected to make a full recovery in a few weeks.

Celestra appears to have been an outside dog that was not given much attention or training. But due to her sweet and affectionate demeanor, she was quickly deemed highly adoptable. She is learning proper house manners and adventuring out in the big world.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 2016


Cindy-Lou Head


Cindy-Lou is an adorable petite Dutch shepherd mix. At about 3 - 4 years old she weighs in at about 70lbs. 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


Helga-Sue Head


Helga-Sue is a petite black and tan female German Shepherd that is approximately 3 years old, and weighs about 60 lbs. She was an owner surrender to rescue, but little is known of her background.

She has average to high energy for a GSD, but playing with her foster brother or going on long walks easily manages it. After her exercise, she settles nicely in the home.

Helga-Sue has great house manners, other than occasionally counter surfing, but we are continuing to work on that. She is housebroken and crate trained, but also stays off the furniture and sleeps on her own bed.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added May 2016


Lionel Head


Lionel is a young handsome male with a long black and tan coat about 11-12 months old. With his big feet and thin frame, it looks like he has some growing to do. At about 65 lbs, he could easily stand to put on another 10-15 lbs. He was an unclaimed stray from a Sacramento shelter, so nothing is known of his background.

Lionel is one sweet boy who is always ready for a massage and happy to give you a kiss. He is cautious with strangers and is learning that they are not so bad when he is able to approach them at his pace. He would be happy to play and romp all day, whether it be with his people or another dog. He has even been known to entertain himself by tossing and chasing a ball.

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

Added April 2016


Murphy Head


Murphy is a gorgeous male, with a solid black long coat, who is approximately 2 years old. He is a large boy who needs to put on a few pounds. He came from a Sacramento area shelter originally as a stray, so very little is know about his background. He does like human attention and likes to be with his human. He gets along with other calm dogs when introduced properly.

He seems to be house broken and has learned quickly how to use a dog door to let himself outside when needed. He has made no attempts to get on furniture or beds and hasn't chewed on anything except toys given to him.

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

Added August 2016


GSD Head


Nadia is an approximately 2 years old, petite black and tan female, weighing 48.5 lbs. She was an unclaimed stray from a Sacramento area shelter, so nothing is known of her background. It appears she's had a litter of puppies in the past. She had a fractured pelvis when she came into the shelter, but has healed nicely and is on no restricted activities. She must be making up for the time she was on limited activity, as she is one busy girl but settles when inside.

Nadia is affectionate and loves going on walks. She has proven to be housebroken, although she needs a crate or a secure yard with high fences (can easily clear a 4' fence) while you are gone since she is still learning what not to chew. Nadia enjoys something to chew on in her crate. Currently in a home with two male German Shepherds and one young female German Shepherd.

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

Added October 2015


GSD Head


Sargent is a handsome black and tan male, 10 to 12 month of age, who is currently about 60 lbs., and will be on the smaller size for a male GSD. He was an unclaimed stray from a local area shelter, so little is known about his background.

Sargent is going through a stage where he is scared of everything until he learns that it is not scary or threatening. He gets along well with the resident dog, and every small and large dogs he has met. He is probably cat workable.

He walks great on a leash, is learning basic obedience commands such as sit, down, come etc., and is learning to be crate trained.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added July 2016


Solomon Head


Solomon is a GSD mix that originally came into our program at the age of 3 months. He was recently returned when his owners could no longer care for him. He is 2 1/2 years old now, weighing about 90lbs. In his former home he lived with 3 cats. He did chase the cats if they ran, but doesn't hurt them, and corrected easily when told to "leave it".

He is currently living in a home with 3 other GSD adult males and a 3 month old female puppy. He shows some prey drive towards the puppy when she runs, but corrects easily when called off.

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

Added August 2016


GSD Head


Tawny is a 10 month old white and cream-colored female weighing about 55 lbs. She was adopted 5 months ago and returned when her adopters felt they no longer had time for her. She was originally a stray from a Modesto area shelter, so nothing is known of her original background.

Currently in a foster home with a German Shepherd, a small terrier mix, and children ages 10 and up, she is settling in nicely. She shadows the other German Shepherd and picks up on her cues for confidence. She is currently living with children but a careful and proper introduction must be made, especially with small children.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added May 2016


Theon Head


Theon is a black and tan male GSD that we think is about 5 or 6 years old. He was a stray at a local shelter so we don't know very much about his background.

Theon came to us very underweight with his ribs and backbone showing. He also seemed to have either a flea allergy or grain allergy which resulted in a loss of hair in different areas of his body.

Theon currently is being fostered with a younger female GSD and they get along great but it is unknown how he does with cats.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added May 2016



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.

Capitola Head


Capitola is a 3 month old female German Shepherd puppy. Capitola came from a local shelter so very little is known of her short background.

Capitola will need someone who is familiar with the German shepherd breed and how to train them. She is very smart and would love to go to a home with a male dog to play with, no other small dogs please!

Capitola will need someone who will commit time and energy to her by continuing her socialization and training into adulthood.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added August 2016


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

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