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.

** 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.

Please use AmazonSmile - every purchase supports rescue!!

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.

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.

Dale Head


Dale is a 3-year-old, blond, German Shepherd mixed with perhaps Husky or Malamute. He was a stray from a local shelter, so nothing is known of his background.

Dale gets along with female dogs best and does great with cats. He has a moderate energy level and enjoys leisurely walks and car rides.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added September 2020


Dashell Head


Dashell aka Dash is an approximately one year old black and tan male who came from a local shelter as a stray so there is nothing known about his background. He is a sweet boy who is still all puppy in personality. It is evident that this boy chooses his canine pack mates over human companionship. When humans come around he will sometimes play "chase" much like a child having fun. In fact, he is very content spending his days with other dogs in the safe outdoors or following his one dog companion inside to relax the time away.

He does well in a crate, but with his skittish behavior with humans he is not currently house trained. He would do well with another dog who can teach him the ropes of the household and that doesn't mind getting nosed or doted upon.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added August 2020


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


Leona Head


Leona is a 7 month old small black and tan female weighing about 35 lbs. She was a stray from a local shelter, so little is known of her background. Based on her odd stance and gait, we asked for X-rays and learned she has two fractured pelvic bones. The right side appears worse than the left and she is scheduled at UC Davis for a Femoral Head Ostectomy aka FHO on 9/24 for the first side to be done. About six weeks later, she will go back to have the other side repaired. Rehab involves no impact and little movement for the first 1-2 weeks with more distance being added as she tolerates it beyond the initial weeks. Because she is young, we expect her to bounce back fairly quickly. Long term, it's best to not allow any high impact activities until she has built up muscles and shows no pain. If you are up to the rehab, Leona can go to a Foster-to-Adopt home anytime.

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

Added September 2020


Neymar Head


Neymar is a 1 year old boy who came from a local shelter so nothing is known of his background. Neymar is a happy and energetic boy who can be quite vocal when excited or playful. He is always excited to meet other dogs and would love to have another active canine companion that wants to play play play. He currently lives with a six year old female shepherd who he adores but he would certainly like it if she played with him more often.

Neymar is housebroken with the use of a doggie door and has nice manners in the house. He knows his basic commands and enjoys any and all outings his people are willing to take him on. Neymar can be a little excited when he first heads out on an adventure or walk but will quickly settle in and can walk nicely on a leash after the initial excitement dissipates. He plays nicely and respectfully with other dogs. Due to the current pandemic he hasn’t had much time around big groups of dogs, like at an adoption day, so he can be a little loud and overly excited when he sees a new group of four legged friends. He sleeps nicely in a crate or on a fluffy dog bed at night but he would happily snuggle up with his human if allowed.

Neymar has not been around kids and/or cats and other small critters since he has been with us. Given his exuberance, he might be a little much for smaller children.

Neymar would do best in an active home with another playful dog and people that are willing to include him in their activities and adventures.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added November 2020


Sal Head


Sal is a 3-year-old male. He came into a shelter with a broken leg. We were able to rescue him and get him treated at UC Davis right away. After 3 months of recuperating, he is finally healed and ready for his new home.

Sal is a happy, goofy boy that loves other dogs. Since has was contained for so long, his favorite game is now keep-away and playing chase with other dogs. Indoors he settles quickly on a dog bed with a toy.

He is crate trained and working on other house manners. Consistent follow-through and supervision is necessary for this boy with newly found freedom. He is shy with new people, but quite the cuddler with people he knows.

Sal would like an active household with another playful dog to be his buddy. Cats and small critters unknown.

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

Updated November 2020


Sal Head

Trixie May

Trixie May is an approximately three year old black female. She weighs approximately 75 to 80 lbs. She came as a stray from a local shelter so nothing is known about her past. She does have a lame back right foot (possibly from an old injury) but it does not limit her ability to walk. It is also obvious she's had at least one litter of puppies or more.

Trixie May really enjoys going for walks to the point she will almost jump up and down to get going. She is very good natured and mellow with her surroundings. The only time she will get ractive is if a small dog starts snarking at her, but she can be redirected and stating “leave it” to change her focus. She is house broken and easily sleeps in a crate. She loves to snuggle and if given the opportunity will sneak into your lap while on the couch to get extra snuggles and love. She does well with cats, small dogs that are not aggressive and children. Her favorite things are snuggles, walks and all kinds of puppy love.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Updated November 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



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