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.

The Big Day of Giving is HERE!

Please donate to help the dogs!

Make a Donatation!

Big Day of Giving

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, Greater California German Shepherd Rescue is participating in Big Day of Giving (BDOG) which is a 24-hour online giving challenge for Greater Sacramento area non-profits. BDOG is an opportunity for donors to show their community pride and support their favorite nonprofits!

GCGSR relies on donor support to help us save German Shepherds who are at-risk and in unacceptable situations. Our adoption fee covers less than half of our costs per dog, and donations allow GCGSR to pay vet bills, to feed and maintain the dogs, and to buy equipment and supplies.

If you belong to the Golden 1 Credit union and use your debit or credit card for your Big Day of Giving donation, your donation goes even further. Golden 1 will proportionally match up to $50,000 to the nonprofits its members donate to on the Big Day of Giving.

Our goal for 2021 is to raise $15,000, so please help us help the dogs!!

** 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.

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


Darlin Head



Darlin is a sweet, large, black & red long-haired female shepherd with a touch of something else mixed in to keep it interesting. She weighs about 100 lbs, but would do better at 80-90 lbs. She enjoys car rides, road trips and a short walk around the block. Originally from a shelter and we estimated at 6+ years of age, Darlin needs a home that enjoys her company, monitors her food and reliably gives her medicine 2x/day (for arthritis) in her food so that she may live her best life.

This lovely girl enjoys being with her people inside with them and is well suited to the work-at-home lifestyle. Although she uses dog doors to enter the house from the yard, she does not use them to go outside (lol) and needs her person to take her out periodically and at the beginning and end of the day. Bonus - she is overall house clean and well-mannered indoors, and her foster family has been able to leave her with access to part of the house unsupervised. If she does need to use the facilities, she signals by walking in circles or, on a walk, pulling to the lefthand curb.

Darlin had images taken at a vet appointment and appears to have mild to moderate hip dysplasia, spondylosis, and a broken tail (that she still wags slightly when she greets you). She is being monitored for a lesion on her ventral spine.

She may be best suited for a well-managed household without many staircases that are required for daily use. She can manage the two steps in her foster home, and a flight if on a leash during a road trip, but would do well with an environment that is easy to navigate. She can climb into a compact sedan and climb up to sit in the back seat without help, and does her best to cooperate and help load into a van or vehicle that is up higher.

She gets along well with a well-behaved older male shepherd in her foster home, and has managed OK in a group walk with other shepherds. She has also stayed the weekend with another volunteer and his older male shepherd foster dog. Since she can be grumbly around puppies or animated, unpredictable dogs, she would do well with people that are able to help her redirect quickly and give her a verbal correction or quick tug on the leash when she alert barks at meeting some people, some animals, and observing unusual things in her environment (Masks, anyone? Bike helmets.). She had limited experience with cats and children in her initial foster home, but did live with caged birds and goats.

This is not your typical medium to high activity shepherd. She walks with the foster family's dog at a brisk pace for less than 10 minutes, and then needs to slow down and end the outing or rest. She is patient waiting for her turn, and usually has a 10 minute walk with everyone, and then waits inside the front door until everyone returns from a longer walk. If you are looking for an easy, mellow dog with limited activity level, Darlin could be your girl.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added April 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. 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


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.

Cognac Head


Cognac is a 3-4 yo black and fawn picturesque male who is slightly underweight at 55 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 versatile social butterflies. He will eagerly meet all dogs with joyous curiosity and do his best to invite play. He is a bit awkward in his play style and has a tendency to become overly aroused at times, so extra care and supervision is needed with small dogs. However, continued supervision during his initial dog- interactions with redirection is rapidly helping him develop appropriate play-manners.

This guy is endearing and will accept any opportunity for pets and face rubs. He is slowly learning to 'wait his turn' when he sees his co-foster receive human attention. When he receives affection, he may begin puppy-mouthing his human. Continued reminders that let him know this is not acceptable will allow him to settle properly as he enjoys his friendly rubs. He occasionally will jump with excitement after reuniting with his human, so caution with small children.

Cognac appears to have had limited exposures to the world, including indoor flooring where he sometimes will come to a standstill freeze. Because he is a curious boy, he will choose to follow the action and rapidly overcome this fear. He also came to us with a benign growth under the tongue and is scheduled for surgery very soon. Thus far, it is not interfering with his ability to enjoy his meals and yummy treats!

Aligned with his exuberant party-personality, he is eager to join in on any adventure including car rides and walks. However, in the home, he settles nicely on his dog beds where he waits patiently while his human is at work. Cognac is housebroken, accustomed to a dog door, and sleeps calmly in his crate through the night. His excellent house manners makes him a delightful household companion.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added April 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


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


Nutmeg Head


Nutmeg is an approximately 2-3 year old black/tan beauty who is a nice medium size at around 65 pounds. She came from an area shelter, so nothing is known of her background, and she even spent a bit of time on their adoption floor waiting for a family of her own. This sweet girl was overlooked at the shelter but has become a House Princess in her foster home and finally has a chance to show off her sweet nature.

She met the other 3 other German Shepherds in her foster home nicely and was not shy about jumping right in when they rough-house and chase each other. She can sometimes get a little competitive for attention but responds to a reminder that she needs to share her humans. While Nutmeg craves attention from her human and is confident in her doggie interactions, she also tends to adopt a submissive posture when given instructions or corrections. Once she realizes she will not be punished inappropriately, she concedes and follows direction, and this behavior is diminishing as she becomes clearer on what is expected of her and her role in the pack. Nutmeg is also living with 3 indoor cats and is respectful of them. Sometimes she appears curious, but a 'leave it' command will redirect her.

She will go into her crate when asked and sleeps quietly all night, and she has also slept on a dog bed next to her foster mom's bed. She uses a doggie door to go outside, and if the door is closed, will wait patiently by the door to be let out. While past the puppy chewing phase, on occasion she can't seem to resist food wrappers that are within her reach. As with many German Shepherds, she can be a bit 'mouthy' when engaging so young children may not be appropriate playmates for this spirited girl.

Nutmeg's shelter records indicate that she has hip dysplasia on both sides, but fortunately she does not seem to be exhibiting outward symptoms and does not appear to be in pain. A healthy diet to maintain an ideal weight, vitamin supplements, as well as regular exercise to keep the muscles around the joints strong will help to manage her condition.

This sweet, affectionate girl is waiting for a home to call her own that will continue her socialization and training.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Updated March 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


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.

He came to us wild and with no manners. He is currently working on sitting nicely for attention instead of jumping up, basic obedience and house manners. He has made great progress and is thriving in his strict, but loving, foster home.

He gets along with other dogs but isn't playful with them. He was introduced to cats and showed little interest, so he may be able to live with them.

Tarko is looking for an experienced home without children. Everyone in the home needs to show leadership with him. He needs daily exercise for both his body and his brain. In the right home, Tarko will be an awesome dog!

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

Added March 2021


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.

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