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.

BIG Day of Giving!!

PetSmart Special Adoption Day

Starting at midnight on May 3rd, our community will come together for the BIG DoG - a 24 hour giving challenge to support local nonprofits in the Sacramento region.

GCGSR is excited to be a part of this event - one of 570 nonprofit organizations in a four-county region - to help raise raise at least $6M in 24 hours from 30,000 donors!!!

How you can help:
1) Spread the word. Tell your friends, like and share our posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
2) Tomorrow, May 3rd, make a donation (as small as $25) to Greater California German Shepherd Rescue .

Our goal is to raise $10,000, so please help us help the dogs!!

All donations are 100% tax deductible!!!

Thank you for your generosity to our rescue, and our community!

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.

Audra Head



Audra is a black and tan, plush coat female guessed to be 3 yrs old. Audra came to us as an unclaimed stray, so little is known of her background.

Please be aware of the necessary care if considering adopting Audra. She has an eye condition known as Pannus (Chronic Superficial Keratitis), thought to be an auto-immune disease that affects the tissues of the cornea with inflammation. She has some visual impairment and left untreated, may result in blindness. Her condition is currently being treated with application of eye ointment once daily.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added March 2016


Dusty Head



Dusty is a stunning 8-9 year old sable male GSD. Weighing in at about 85lbs he is a good sized boy. He could stand to add a couple pounds. Dusty was dropped off at a local area shelter when his family could no longer care for him. It is reported that Dusty was an outdoor only dog, that had lived with other dogs.

Dusty is learning that indoor life is quite nice. It is unknown if he is truly housebroken, but so far, he has not had an accident in the house. Dusty has gotten along with all of the other large male and female dogs in his foster home.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 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.

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


Cher Head


Cher is a very sweet and lovely sable girl, who we think is about 3 years old and weighs approximately 60 pounds. She came to us from a local area shelter so little is known of her background. When Cher arrived at the shelter, she had a ring-shaped wound on her left hock (rear leg) due to an embedded rope. She had minor surgery to remove the rope and the wound is healing nicely.

She is currently living in a foster home with a wide variety of male/female and large/medium sized dogs, of all ages, and has done well with all of them.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 2016


Cindy-Lou Head


Cindy-Lou is an adorable petite Dutch shepherd mix. At about two 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


Karis Head


Karis is a sweet 3 year old Black and Tan female. Weighing in at about 60 lbs. she is a nice size. Karis and a male companion were found running the streets and animal control was called. No owners came for them.

Karis gets along with the large dogs in her foster home, but needs a minute to meet a new dog. No cats or small dogs for this girl. Karis can be a little bossy, and would like a large dog brother to boss around.

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

Added March 2016


Lionel Head


Lionel is a 10-12 month old male with a long black and tan coat and weighing about 65 lbs. He was an unclaimed stray from a Sacramento shelter, so nothing is known of his background. Lionel acts like a goofy puppy, has big floppy feet, and appears to have some growing to do. This is one handsome boy and pictures don't do him justice.

Lionel loves playing with the young female German Shepherd in the foster home and is very submissive toward the big male German Shepherds. When excited, this boy shows lots of energy, but settles nicely.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 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!

Added October 2015


Nanook Head


Nanook is a beautiful 2 year old sable boy from a Modesto area shelter. He weighs about 90lbs, but could use another 10 - 15lbs. He was surrendered by his owners, due to not quite enough interaction with his people so he chose to leave to visit others.

Nanook travels well in a vehicle, and has good house manners. He does OK on leash, but need corrections which he responds to well. He loves leadership and is very eager to please. He is trained in German and also responds to hand signals.

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

Added February 2016


Olaf Head


Olaf is a gorgeous black and red male approximately 5 years old. He is just under 80 pounds. He is a very soft mouthed gentle giant who will follow you around all over the house. He knows his basic commands: sit, stay, heel, come, down and go potty. He loves to go in rides in the car. Mostly Olaf loves to play fetch. He loves balls so much that balls of yarn should probably be kept away from his reach. He mostly entertains himself, but he loves it when you throw the ball for him.

Olaf is house trained and does not disturb people's belongings or papers while you are away. He is currently in a house all day with access to the back yard. He likes people but is reactive to other dogs.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added February 2016


sansa Head


Sansa is a petite, approximately one year old black and light tan female, who is recovering from mange. Her current weight is about 53 lbs, but she can stand to gain a few pounds. She came out of a Sacramento area shelter as a stray, so nothing is known of her background. She appears to have had a litter of puppies in her short lifetime. Currently on medication for mange and frequent medicated baths will help her to rid the yeast on her skin. Once her skin heals better, she will need to be spayed and when completely healed this girl will be striking.

Sansa is learning house manners and does well with the use of a doggy door to prevent accidents inside.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added March 2016


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.

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

Added June 2014


Trevor Head


Trevor has recently returned to rescue due to unforeseen health issues with his family - not Trevor. Trevor was 4 - 5 months old when he first came to rescue in 2011, now 4 years old he is a well-trained sweet boy.

In his previous home he lived with cats and a small dog. Currently, in his foster home Trevor lives with large male GSD and 3 cats. Trevor enjoys playing with his new canine friend and so far has gotten along with all the dogs he has met. He is more of a mellow guy and would rather be close to his people.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added April 2016


Tux Head


Tux is a large, approximately 3 year old male. He is primarily black with a patch of white fur on his chest. He came to our group after receiving FHO surgery. Tux came out of a Sacramento area shelter, so nothing is known of his background. He currently weighs about 85 pounds but could stand to gain another 10-15 pounds. However, due to his recovery, he will do better putting that weight on slowly in order to allow him time to build up his muscles and better carry the additional weight.

Tux is a happy-go-lucky boy who appears to get along well with other dogs and really loves his people. He plays well with the young female German Shepherd in his foster home.

This is a Level 2 Dog!

Added March 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.

Gaia Head


Gaia is a black and tan female puppy, born 12/8/15. Gaia, Nyx, and Eros were surrendered to a local shelter when they were about 6 weeks old, so not much is known of her background.

Gaia is a typical puppy with lots of energy. She loves to play, play, play with Nyx and Eros. She is the stalker in the litter. She will slink along the floor and pounce on the other two as they walk by. Gaia loves to have her belly rubbed, and is the most adventurous of the 3 puppies.

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

Added March 2016


Nyx Head


Nyx is a black and tan female puppy, born 12/8/15. Nyx, Gaia, and Eros were surrendered to a local shelter when they were about 6 weeks old, so not much is known of her background.

Nyx is a typical puppy with lots of energy. She loves to play, play, play with Gaia and Eros. She is the alarm barker in the litter, and also the talker. Nyx will look at you with loving puppy eyes, and then lick, lick, and then chew your hand, with her needle sharp teeth.

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

Added March 2016


Tiki Head


Tiki is a 4 month old black and tan female born on 12/8/15. She's very confident, determined, bossy, independent, spunky and smart (did we mention Level 3). She is one of the nine Soda Pop litter puppies from Belle that we pulled from a local shelter in November.

She knows the basic commands - sit, down, shake, roll over, stay, and fetch (she LOVES the ball). We are still working on walking on a leash.

With most puppies anything she finds will end up in her mouth and she finds everything...and she will definitely keep you on your toes.

Added February 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.

Special Adoption Day!

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 - 11 am to 2 pm

8215 Laguna Blvd
Elk Grove, CA 95758
(916) 691-3700

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