Greater California
German Shepherd Rescue
~ It's all about the dogs ~

Our Wonderful Dogs

Grizzly 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.

** Announcement: Adoption Days are Temporarily Canceled **

Update: August 2021 - Due to the increase of COVID cases again, we have decided to pause our Adoption Day events so there will NOT be any Adoption Days in August. We will watch the COVID reports for September. If numbers start dropping, we will consider returning to our normal schedule of 3rd Saturdays at Loehmann's Plaza Pet Food Express and 4th Saturdays at the Roseville Fountains Pet Food Express. We will continue to do private meet and greets to keep our current dogs moving into new homes.

Please contact us about our adoptable adoptable dogs!

GCGSR is holding safe, social distancing, private
Meet & Greets with potential adopters.

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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.

The Adoption Fee for a Special Needs or Senior Dog is $100.

Augusta Head



Augusta is an almost 8 year old black and tan female German Shepherd. She was originally adopted from us in October 2015 and returned May 2021 from a family that had to move and couldn't find a rental that took large dogs. During her life she was known by her family as Sadie. Although she is almost 8, she is quite spry. She is quite playful and would love nothing more than to jump on your lap. And, if you throw her favorite blue balls she will be your friend forever!

Augusta came into rescue at over 90 lbs which was a little stout for her frame and hip issues. She has slimmed down to 84 lbs and is still losing some weight.

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

Added May 2021


Tarko Head



Tarko is a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix and has the energy to prove it! He came to us when his neglectful owner was pressured by dog-lovers and PETA to surrender him to a shelter. We estimate him to be 8 years old.

From his torn ear to his partially amputated tail, his body shows the rough life he has had. He doesn't let his past affect his love for people though! He loves belly rubs and is friends with anyone that will play fetch with him.

Tarko is an energetic, determined boy. He can get easily frustrated and becomes mouthy, especially towards hands. He needs consistent leadership and strict rules, and works well with praise or treats.

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

Added March 2021


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.

Chadwick Head


Chadwick is a one year old boy with a very dark sable coat that appears mostly black. He came from a local shelter so nothing is known on his background. We believe he is a Malinois and Shepherd mix, and like most Malinois, he is very attached to his human companions. Chadwick really wants to love and please his human companions so he is willing to take instructions and learn new commands as long as he can remember while managing the excitement of life as a one year old pup.

Chadwick has nice house manners and is house broken with the use of a dog door. He is happy to go explore outside so long as he knows he can come right back in when he likes. He sleeps well in a crate so long as his human stays there with him. He loves car rides and walks well on a leash; if he gets over-stimulated on a walk, a quick but firm correction helps him settle right back in so that everyone can enjoy the rest of the walk.

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

Added September 2021


Cognac Head


Cognac is a 4 yo black and fawn colored picturesque male weighing approximately 60 lbs. Like so many of our dogs, he was a stray without a story book of his past. However, since his arrival into our program, he has blossomed into one of our most social butterflies. He is eager to meet all dogs with joyous curiosity, and will do his best to invite play. At times, he may become overly excited in his eagerness to engage with other dogs. However, continued supervision during his initial dog-interactions with redirection helps him to settle into appropriate play-manners quite rapidly.

This guy is endearing and will accept any opportunity for pets and face rubs. He has learned to share the human space and attention with other dogs and will 'wait his turn' (although while wiggling) for his dog treats. When reuniting with his human after a long work day, Cognac previously would jump up with excitement or display puppy-mouthing. Both of these behaviors have completely disappeared and are now replaced with appropriate calm greetings. A new environment may trigger these behaviors to return, so continued reminders may be necessary, especially around small children.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Gitiana Head


Gitana (in Spanish 'gypsy girl or woman') is a gorgeous young female GSD with a sleek bi-color coat of black and fawn, and distinct silver markings around her ears. She came to us as an owner surrender from a family that was no longer able to keep her we estimate her to be approximately 10-11 months old. Gitana is on the smaller size, but has long legs and an athletic and slender build, weighing in at about 55#.

It took a while for Gitana to figure out the whole idea of housebreaking. But after a few initial accidents, she seems to have figured it out. As long as she's let out regularly she is very good about going outside to do her business. She loves to run around outside with her foster pack, as much as she loves to hang out around them in the house. Despite her diminutive size, she can hold her own in play battles and chase sessions with her larger foster pack mates.

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

Added August 2021


Goose Head


Goose is a 1 1/2 year old white male with a long coat. He came to us by way of a local trainer who was working with him through a board and train after his prior owner entered hospice and could no longer care for him. We don't know much about his background.

When Goose first came to us he was a little unsure of new people and experiences but as soon as we added a leash or slip lead he would easily follow along. He walks nicely on a leash with just the occasional correction needed if he gets a little bit too excited.

Goose loves to play with other dogs! He will happily play with anyone he can engage but is respectful if the other dog tells him no.

Goose is crate trained and sleeps nicely through the night in a crate in his foster mom's room. He is house broken with the use of the doggie door and generally has nice house manners. He is still a bit of a playful puppy at times and if he isn't getting enough attention, he has been known to grab something from inside that doesn't belong to him in an effort to create a game of chase. Goose may be do okay as an only dog in an active household, but a home where he had another playmate would be ideal to help him burn off any extra mischievous energy.

Goose would make a great addition to a family that is able to provide regular activity and continued training. It is unknown how he would do with cats and small critters.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Updated October 2021


Grizzly Head


Grizzly is a pretty 5-6 year old female with a black and red long coat, and is a perfect weight at 64 pounds. She was surrendered to a local shelter along with siblings from the same household and the dogs had been kept outdoor with little socialization.

Grizzly is housebroken and uses a dog door. She is crate trained and seems to find comfort in being in a crate. As long as other dogs are along, Grizzly enjoys car rides.

This girl is very aloof and does not seek out people for attention, however she seems to enjoy lying nearby her person whenever she sits down. She can be uncertain in new environments and with new people. No young children as they scare her. She enjoys being with other dogs of all sizes and therefore must go into a home with one or more other dogs. Grizzly has moderate energy and is overall a calm, quiet girl.

Grizzly walks well on leash and seems to enjoy her walks. Her forever home must continue her low impact exercise and should appreciate Grizzly's aloof nature.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Updated May 2021


Jonathan Head


Jonathan, aka Johnny, is a distinguished older black and tan boy with a gray muzzle who came out of a local shelter so we don’t know his history. He is likely about 7-8 years old, but still has the spirit and heart of a youngster. He is living in a foster home with two younger German Shepherds and another older GSD and met all of his four-legged housemates nicely. When the youngsters play, he is right in the mix with this vocal participation and goofy antics.

Living indoors appears to be new to Johnny, but he caught on quickly and adapted to the household routine. He is housebroken with use of a doggie door and sleeps quietly in his crate at night (although, he can also be trusted to sleep uncrated). When his foster mom is at work, he is trusted with access to the house/yard along with the resident dogs (with the kitchen trash can being the only casualty!)

He loves to be in the company of his human, and will find a comfortable spot to nap near his foster mom when she’s working. He is affectionate without being pesky, and he redirects easily with verbal corrections. This fairly mellow older guy is looking for a home to include him in their lifestyle and activities – he’s already shown his foster family that even at his age, he still has a lot to offer! He is currently living in a home with both indoor and outdoor cats, so he may be able to live with dog savvy cats.

Small critters are unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Kenny Head


Kenny is a 5 year old, handsome black and tan male weighing about 98 lbs. He was adopted from us at 4 months of age and named Tug for the past 4+ years. The husband passed away and Kenny was very attached to him and doesn't respond as well to the wife. She decided he would be better in a home with a strong handler that he'll respond to well.

Kenny has lived with a female Great Dane and has other dog friends. He greets most new dogs well unless there is a barrier between them. Housebroken, crate trained,

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

Added September 2021


Suarez Head


Suarez is a handsome 3 to 5 year 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. He loves car rides.

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.

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

Updated July 2020


Zelda A Head

Zelda A

Zelda is a higher energy, spirited, happy, and sweet girl about 5 to 7 years old. She is not a dog for a first-time owner but would be a great addition for a family with German Shepherd or similar breed experience who understands the need for structure, leadership, and training. She should not go to a home with young children due to a strong herding instinct.

Zelda gets along well with the other dogs in her foster home but you won't have squirrels or cats in your yard if she has her way. She can be a little dominate over a submissive pack mate so she would do best as an only dog or with a confident male.

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

Updated July 2020



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.

Cruella Head


Cruella is a pretty 5 month old tan female Belgian Malanois who loves to play and be near her humans. She can be somewhat rough while playing with other dogs, but never to the point of hurting.

Cruella is very affectionate who really enjoys crawling into a warm human lap and receiving all the attention she can get. Although she may do okay as an only dog she will thrive with another younger playful pup to keep her intensity on play and not destruction.

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

Added September 2021


Shane Head


Shane is approximately 5 months old. He and his siblings were found in a dumpster and apparently had little interaction with people.

He is very shy and afraid of people. After working with him for a few months, he will come for treats. He doesn't trust enough to be pet just yet.

Shane loves other dogs! He is happy and playful with them. He feels more secure with another dog nearby and usually places himself with a dog between him and people.

He is looking for a home where someone has lots of time to spend with him making him feeling comfortable and patiently teaching him to trust. Another dog in the home will be very helpful to be an example. Positive training and consistency will help Shane know his place in the household and give him security.

His foster home has been pushing into uncomfortable situations, and he is improving. With patience and effort, Shane will blossom into a loving dog.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Shannon Head


Shannon is an adorable black and tan, 4 month old female. She was originally found in a dumpster with three siblings and brought to a local shelter. Given her rough start in life, this girl is very shy. She loves the company of other dogs but she's still getting used to humans. Although timid at times she will come to get treats held in an extended hand about fifty percent of the time.

Shannon is crate trained, but will protest in the morning, when she thinks it’s time to get up. She is working on potty training. She will go potty outside, but has not yet grasped the concept of alerting her humans when she needs to go out and will potty in the house. Continued efforts will be needed in this area.

Shannon is still quite shy around humans, but loves the company of the older male German Shepherd in her foster home. She would do best with another older more confident dog to show her the ropes and help to bring her out of her shell. Regular exercise and obedience training can also help tire her and help bond her to her people.

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

Added October 2021


Tahlia Head


Tahlia is a 3-month-old female, sister to Tabina and Trenton. She was born in foster care and shortly thereafter contracted parvo. She got quite sick, but has fully recovered. She is now ready for her own home.

Tahlia is outgoing and loves people. She loves other dogs and is learning not to pester them. She is curious with cats, but quickly moves on to something else. She is still on the thin side, but should soon catch up now that she's healthy. She is learning to sleep in a crate and other house manners.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Tammy Head


Tammy is a 5 month old black and tan female. Her previous owner was told by the landlord they couldn't keep her, so she was surrendered to us.

Tammy's a happy, energetic, quirky, loving puppy. She loves human interaction, Is very sweet and mild tempered, with the occasional puppy outburst of joy and frolics.

She is great with children of all ages, just needs a reminder to not jump on them at first introduction. Loves other dogs of all sizes and will play for hours on end, if given the chance.

Already house broken and crate trained. Settles down nicely in the house. Is quickly learning basic commands as well as walking on a leash.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Teeka Head


Teeka is a 3-month-old female, sister to Tabina and Trenton. She was born in foster care and shortly thereafter contracted parvo. She got quite sick, but has fully recovered and tested negative. She is now looking for her own home.

Teeka is outgoing and loves people. She loves other dogs and is learning not to pester them. She is curious with cats, but quickly leaves them to find something else to investigate. She is learning to sleep in a crate and other house manners.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Trenton Head


Trenton is a 3-month-old male, brother to Tabina and Teeka.. He was born in foster care and shortly thereafter contracted parvo. He fought it off successfully without showing symptoms, so he is the largest of the puppies. He has passed his quarantine period and is now looking for his own home.

Trenton is a bit shy to new people, but warms up quickly. He loves other dogs. He is curious with cats, but quickly leaves them to find something else to investigate. He is learning to sleep in a crate and other house manners.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Tres Head


Tres is a gorgeous, petite female weighing about 30 lbs at 6 months old. By her tan coloring, she appears to be part Belgian Malinois. She came to us through a local shelter where she arrived with a badly injured front leg from being hit by a car. She was taken to an emergency vet where her left front leg was amputated. Being young helped in a quick recovery and she doesn't act like she realizes she's any different than than the four legged dogs in her foster home.

She keeps up with the dogs at the foster home, even wrestling around with one large male, as he enjoys "sharing" his toys with her. She is close to fully housebroken and has conquered the doggy door like a champ. She will kennel in the bedroom at night yet would prefer to hang out with her foster humans. She is hesitant walking on a leash near cars, following her traumatic accident. We have gone on some walks, and she's getting the hang of it.

This little girl adores playing with her foster humans as much as she adores playing with her foster pack. She can be described as being 3 legs and all heart. She is curious and loving and will make an amazing addition to a family. She is a joy!

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


Willa Head


Willa is an adorable sable female with one ear standing. She came into this world on 7/24/21 born to Amelia and surrounded by six brothers and a sister. We named the litter the Aviation litter and each had a name related to a pilot or astronaut. Originally Willa was one of the larger puppies and played very rough with her siblings. Now in a foster home as the only puppy living with an adult female German Shepherd and a large adult male German Shepherd, Willa acts more insecure and runs if they try to engage her in play.

She is on her way to being housebroken and sleeps through the night in a crate. She loves being with her people. She tends to follow the female Shepherd around and it has helped her explore the yard. Once Willa is comfortable in her surroundings and with new people, she engages and wants attention. A home with another confident male would be ideal for Willa. As a puppy, she still has a short attention span and will randomly chase after a leaf or butterfly when outdoors. She still jumps up on people and is beginning her chewing stage, so lots of toys to distract her is critical. Willa loves stuffed toys, balls and chew toys. She has begun chasing and chewing on her tail. We correct her whenever we see it, as it can be a bad habit/cycle for her to get into. She spends a great deal of her day sleeping as she's growing like a weed.

She is still too young to be spayed or have her rabies vaccine, so a potential adopter will have a longer trial period as she must be spayed before she can be fully adopted. During that time, we expect her to continue her socialization with people and other dogs and begin her basic training.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2021


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

** Announcement: ALL Adoption Day's have been temporarily cancelled **

From 11 am to 2 pm every month, rain or shine, at these locations!
For directions, please see our Events Calendar page.

** New Location for the Modesto Adoption Day **

Second Saturday of every month in Modesto:
3900 Sisk Road
Modesto, CA 95356
(209) 543-9176
(From Highway 99 - take the Standiford or Pelandale Exit
Next to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond)

Third Saturday of every month in Sacramento:
Pet Food Express - Sacramento  ** CANCELLED, COVID-19 **
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