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

Update: July 14, 2020 - In light of Governor Newsom placing greater restrictions on California to attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, GCGSR has cancelled the upcoming July 18th Adoption Day at Pet Food Express - Land Park and the July 25th Adoption Day at Pet Food Express - Roseville. GCGSR will resume Adoption Day's when such restrictions are lifted and California moves into a better phase of recovery.

March 2020: Due to community health concerns related to COVID-19 (also know as the Coronavirus), Greater California German Shepherd Rescue along with our partners - Pet Food Express and PetSmart, have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend in-store adoption events.

Please contact us about our adoptable adoptable dogs!

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

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Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Greater California German Shepherd Rescue whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.

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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.

Christina Head



Christina is a petite, 10 year old black and tan female weighing just 50 lbs. She was a stray from a local shelter so we have no history about her past. Her front teeth are worn and/or broken so a dental procedure is being planned for her and she will require only soft foods in the future. The vet suspects she had been in a kennel or crate quite a bit and she broke her teeth on the metal enclosure. As might be expected for a senior dog, she has arthritis in her hind end and spondylosis (pinching of the nerves) in her lower spine that affects her stride. Her pain is being managed with anti-inflammatory and nerve blocking meds and they will be required for the remainder of her time. She has some difficulty going up and down 3 steps into and out of the house. Her walks are limited to a quarter to a third of a mile. She also can slip on hardwood floors unless carpet or runners are put down.

Christina seems to prefer women over men. In her foster home, she gets fed and walked by the foster dad, but she likes to follow and cuddle with the foster mom and is not willing to go to the dad when he calls her. Initially she retreated to an open crate for security but would come back out for moms attention. Since the crate was removed she has integrated well into her environment and gained confidence around the other dogs. She is living with another larger female German Shepherd and a mid-sized dog in the home who seem to sense she is not feeling her best and leave her alone so they are getting along well. She is housebroken and easy to have around. She uses the dog door but with some difficulty.

Her new home should be a single level home with no steps, with carpet or carpet runners to keep her from slipping. She also enjoys thick, soft dog beds. Senior dogs repay kindness with affection and she will be your best friend.

Cats and small critters are unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added December 2020


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. Based on X-rays and a physical exam by our vet, Grizzly has a decreased range of motion in her hips and is also showing signs of spondylosis (arthritis in her spine) by the occasional dragging of her rear feet. Anti-inflammatory medication is given daily to keep her comfortable.

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 is a Level 2 Dog.

Added June 2020


Moses Head



Moses is a Handsome 8 yo Black and Tan male weighing 80 lbs. He was originally found as a stray when he first arrived to us 3 years ago. While we do not know much about his early past, he was returned to us after living with a family for 3 years due to a change in job location. As always, Moses remains very social and curious. Like many dogs, he displays moments of hesitation with some new experiences, however he will eagerly join you with positive and confident leadership. Due to years of living outdoors, he used to avoid all tile/linoleum floors. Happily, this has been completely overcome. In fact, Moses finds the indoors to be his preferred sanctuary where he often may entice play even on slippery surfaces.

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

Updated July 2020


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.

Alana Head


Alana is a stunningly gorgeous, black German Shepherd, about one year old. She has a small spot of white on her chest.

She is timid in new situations, with new people, and with new dogs because she lived solely in a backyard with no socialization. She is a happy, sweet girl once she becomes comfortable.

Alana needs to be exposed to new things and people on a regular basis and given positive reinforcement to help her gain confidence. She is learning house manners and how to interact appropriately with other dogs.

She has low prey drive and may be able to live with friendly cats.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added February 2021


Bronwen Head


Bronwen is a sweet 3 year-old female that weighs 52 lbs. It looks like she's had puppies recently and she needs to gain another 5 lbs or so.

She is low to medium energy level. She doesn't know any formal obedience, but is easy on leash and around the house. She is currently living with a dog-savvy cat and other large dogs. She isn't playful with the dogs but enjoys their company. She likes walks and car rides. She is learning to sleep in a crate and other house manners.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added February 2021


Easton Head


Easton is a big, handsomme male who is 2 to 3 years old and was found as a stray, so not much is known of his past.

He is a big, bouncy, and a bit mouthy waiting for the right handler to show him the ropes. Easton is crate trained and working on his house manners.

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

Added July 2020


Kyda Head


Kyda is a 7 year old long haired female. She was an owner surrender who spent all her life in a backyard with three other German Shepherds. As a result, she had no knowledge of indoors or walks outside her yard. She has been picking up the indoor life quite well. She learned the stairs within a few days, and with only one accident, she now appears to be housebroken, with the use of a dog door. She is also learning how to go on walks and she walks calmly next to her human. She will go into a crate, but it is not her favorite thing, however, she does get crated when the family is out and she has been fine. Kyda sleeps in the bedroom with her foster parents.

Kyda is very uncertain of new humans initially, men more than women. She shies away from big arm/hand movements, but when she gets to know you, she is very affectionate. Kyda is a very sweet girl and takes instruction quite well. She will be an easy dog to train. She shares the foster home with another German Shepherd alum of GCGSR and does well with her.

Kyda is currently overweight and is on a weight reduction regime. This includes daily walks and two smaller meals a day. Although she is large, she is a slow, picky eater.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added January 2021


Kye Head


Kye is an approximately 2 year old male German Shepherd weighing 81 pounds. He was a stray from a local shelter, so nothing is known about his past.

Kye bonds quickly with his human and gives good eye contact. He greets people well, has medium energy and is food motivated. He rides nicely in the car and waits quietly while you run into the store for 5 or 10 minutes, (while parked in the shade). He has nice house manners, but sometimes plays with your things being silly. He knows some basic commands including the 'go potty' command. He is trained to sit before going in or out of the front door. He is very affectionate and can sometimes get a bit pushy for attention including jumping on people. For this reason, no children under 13 years old for this boy. His feet are sensitive and don't like to be touched, so building his trust before attempting to handle his feet is important. He is agile and known to jump a 6' wood fence, climbed out of a chain link kennel with no cover on it and tried to dig out when he couldn't scale over a fence. Having a secure enclosure to leave him in is important.

He will sleep through the night in a crate if he knows you're nearby. He will ring a bell when he needs to go potty (bells included). He heels well, but he does need correcting when critters are near. He barks at small dogs and when close to a large dog like a Rottweiler he makes a charging motion.

He currently lives with a large female German Shepherd and plays well with her. Obedience training and consistent boundaries are recommended to help with his jumping, reaction on leash, and teaching him whose in charge so he will be successful in his new home.

No cats, critters, birds, livestock or small dogs.

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

Added December 2020 / Updated February 2021


Lilu Head


Lilu is a dainty 3 year old tri-colored female who is currently underweight at 51 lbs. She was brought into our organization through a local shelter with her 9 fluffy 4-week old puppies.

Upon arrival, she was severely undernourished and socially intimidated with all that is going on in her new world. Despite these challenges, she adapted well in her foster home where she successfully raised a healthy, well-balanced litter. Lilu is now able to focus on regaining much needed body strength and building her social confidence without the need to nurse her pups.

This gal is pure feminine delight. Her mission is to meet any human and canine friend she can with a gentle 'hello'. Her timid nature will, however, cause her to retreat quickly if she perceives a threat. Although she chooses avoidance in these situations, she does have the courage to return and 'try again'. She finds comfort in the company of calm confident dogs with whom she can explore the world without hesitation.

Lilu has lovely house manners, as she usually spends most of her time laying on a comfy dog bed. Toys are not a big interest of hers, but she will never turn down a soft chit chat with massaging butt rubs! She is learning to walk very well on a leash as she engages joyfully on her daily walks. She gets spooked now and then while walking in the dark, but takes cues well from her human to ignore any distractions. Car rides are new to her, and entering a vehicle is very intimidating. She will benefit from repeated opportunities to show her this adventure can be enjoyable.

Lilu is quietly keen with a rapid learning curve. She appears housebroken and willingly enters her crate where she sleeps quietly during the night near her human. She has an impressive baritone howl to distant sirens, much like a soothing 'Moo'. Otherwise, she is quietly content and grateful with your simple company. This girl will surely make a warm addition to a welcoming calm home.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added February 2021


Sammie Jo Head

Sammie Jo

Sammie Jo is a beautiful red and tan female that is approximately 6 years old. She originally came to us with her litter of puppies in 2018 from a local shelter. She was adopted out and returned to us in 2019, through no fault of her own. She unfortunately came back to us overweight at 107 lbs on a 70 lb. frame.

She suffered a torn cruciate in her right rear knee, due in part to her being overweight. She has slimmed down to her ideal weight around 70 lbs. She had surgery at UC Davis in August of 2020 to repair her knee. She is fully recovered from her surgery and now ready to go into a home again where she can enjoy life and have a family of her own.

Sammie Jo is super sweet and loves attention. She does have some ball drive. She will bring you her ball or toy and wait patiently for you to throw it. She also has a medium prey drive, so a home with small dogs or cats would not work for this girl.

Sammie Jo knows basic commands and has great recall. She is a good alarm barker, keeping an eye on things in the home. She currently lives in a home with 3 adult male GSDs and 1 adult female GSD. She gets along well with everyone. She also behaves like a typical mature female, and becomes the fun police if things get too rowdy for her taste.

Sammie Jo needs to work on her leash manners. She is very strong and has a tremendous amount of pull. The ideal adopter will need a good center of gravity, in order not to be pulled down.

Sammie Jo needs a home where her food intake will be monitored, and food securely stored. She needs a home where the owner will appreciate her crafty nature and her problem-solving skills. She will benefit from being in a home that will provide her with daily exercised and continued training.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added January 2021


Stormy Head


Stormy is a pretty red and black female weighing 66 lbs. She was a stray from a shelter so we have no background on her.

She is in a home with a senior male, an adult female and a young male dog, all German Shepherds and a cat. Uses a dog door and has had no accidents. She wants the cat to play but corrects when told to leave it. She's great at playing ball and will bring it back for you to throw it again. Will occasionally put her feet on the counter if smells are too enticing but corrects easily.

Nothing valuable has been chewed in but she tests the boundaries the more comfortable she becomes. Nylabones or other yummy chewables help redirect her. Stormy loves her daily walks and her leash manners are improving. She isn't a fan of car rides yet and sometimes gets car sick.

She originally didn't bark much but now barks sometimes on walks at people and dogs and seems to want to meet them. Stormy knows some basic commands but further training will help her be at her best. She would like another dog companion and someone home most of the time.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added February 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


Zoey May Head

Zoey May

Zoey May is a 2-3 year old pretty black and red Shepherd. She came into the shelter with a fractured back leg. Her leg has been surgically repaired and she is now going on her sixth week of recovery. No running or jumping for Zoey until November 14 when she has a recheck and should be able to return to normal dog activities.

Zoey lives in a multi-dog home and gets along with her both the males and females in her foster home. You can tell she wants to play with her dog buddies, so longer term she would probably like a dog buddy to play with.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added October 2020


Zubin Head


Zubin is a stunning four-year-old Belgian Malinois mix. Weighing in at 110 pounds, he is a big stocky boy. Zubin came to us from a local area shelter so nothing is known about his background. He was likely an outdoor only dog because everything in the home seems unfamiliar to him. He originally didn't really want to come inside, and while still unsure, he is coming in more and more, and will settle if you close the door and shut him in.

Zubin doesn't know any commands, and while he seems to enjoy walks, he has no leash manners and will cut you off if he wants to go investigate something. Fortunately, he doesn't pull much. Zubin could stand to get in better shape, he tends to slow down and walk behind you for the third mile. Out on a walk squirrels are of interest to him, he currently avoids the roosters, and he has not barked or reacted to dogs who bark or react to him.

Zubin likes to play ball, but doesn't really bring it back very well yet. Be careful if you have it in your hand, sometimes he will jump to grab it not realizing that there is a hand there as well. Zubin doesn't seem to have much interest in other toys at this time, but that may change as he learns to engage more with his human.

Zubin gets along with the large male and female shepherds in his foster home. He likes the female, and the old guy, but is a little unsure about the younger confident males, and tries to avoid them, although every day he mingles with them a little more. Zubin seems like he could live as an only dog, or with a female dog buddy.

Zubin is definitely a work in progress. This boy is sweet, funny, and really wants to be loved by his human. He is also unsure, somewhat stubborn, and a little pushy. This boy needs rules and structure, training and exercise to be the best boy he can be.

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

Added February 2021



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 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