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.

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.

Annabelle Head

Special Needs


Annabelle is a beautiful six year old that spent her first years chained outside to a tree. When she came to us, she had needed an embedded collar removed and treatment for flea allergies, malnutrition and 2 very painful ear infections. She has had her two lower canine teeth and one other front tooth removed because she broke them off trying to get off of the chain. Even with all this happening, she is a wonderfully affectionate and gentle girl.

She has helped in the raising of four different puppies that were being fostered in the home. She has gotten along with the smaller terrier mix that is in the home. Upon first introduction to new people she is appropriately cautious but warms up quickly. She has been subjected to the attention of a two-year-old toddler and was very calm and tolerant.

Annabelle will be a special-needs dog due to the issues with her spine and hips. These issues are being treated with a nerve pain medication and she is very stable. She will do best in a home where she is not required to climb any stairs and has carpeted floor areas so that her legs don't slip. She is hoping for a family that can give her light to moderate daily exercise to keep her joints loose. She's very much enjoys car rides but needs help getting in the vehicle.

She will be happiest when she is around her humans.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Darlin Head

Special Needs


Darlin is a sweet, black & red long-haired female shepherd. She is a lovely companion and aims to be with her people and checks in on all the members of her foster family. She enjoys car rides, road trips, and short walks. Darlin needs a home that enjoys her company and affection and that reliably give her daily medication.

This lovely girl enjoys being inside and is well suited to the work-at-home lifestyle. She uses dog doors to enter the house from the yard, and is learning to use them to go outside. Because she doesn't want to miss out on anything going on indoors, she needs her person to periodically take her out to relieve. She is overall house clean and well-mannered indoors, and her foster family is able to leave her with access to the house unsupervised. If she does need to go out, she walks in circles to signal.

Originally a stray, her estimated age was 6 years, although she is now feeling better and acting younger. Darlin is well-managed on medication for her thyroid and arthritis and had images taken at the vet that showed moderate hip dysplasia, arthritis, and spondylosis. She wags her tail when she greets people, even though a closer look shows that it is broken. She may do better in a household without many stairs required for daily use. She can climb two steps in her foster home and a flight on a road trip, and would do well with an environment that is easy to navigate. She can independently climb into a small car and climb up to sit in the back seat, and cooperates and helps when being loaded into a larger vehicle.

To help clear skin issues, for now she is on medication, a prescription diet, and was recently professionally groomed and had her coat trimmed to its current short length. Note the attached photos show how she appears before and after grooming. She is becoming more active and fit, and although she weighs in at 93 lbs., her weight loss journey may show that she is closer to a 75-80 lbs. dog.

She gets along with a well-behaved older male shepherd in her foster home and at another volunteer's home. She can manage to walk well in a group of shepherds, and can also be grumbly around puppies and animated, unpredictable dogs. A small verbal correction or slight tug on the leash helps her settle if she alert barks when meeting new people, new animals, and unusual things in her environment. (She has had limited experience with cats and children in her initial foster home, and lived with caged birds and goats at one time.)

Unlike some shepherds, she is a fairly low activity dog that only needs short daily walks and that can be managed with a pleasant voice and flat collar. If you are looking for a sweet companion, Darlin could be your girl.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Judah Head



Judah is a handsome 8 year old, all white long coat male weighing about 70 pounds.

He is one sweet and nice boy. Judah walks well on a leash and is crate trained. He knows how to use the door dog and has nice house manners. Judah loves to swim and fetch sticks thrown in the lake.

Judah is smart and can be a bit pushy/bossy, but has blended in well with his foster pack of 6 dogs big and small. An experienced handler is necessary to prevent escalation if not kept in check.

If you are looking for a well mannered, sweet, gorgeous, white long coat come meet Judah.

Cats and small critters unknown.

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


Momma Mia Head

Special Needs

Momma Mia

Momma Mia, aka Mia, is a black and tan female who is approximately 10 years old weighing about 65 lbs. She came into rescue from a local area shelter so little is known of her background.

Mia was found at the shelter curled up on a bed in the corner of her run. She had just arrived at the shelter about 12 hours earlier and the shelter thought she was 13+ years old due to her poor body condition. She would not approach the volunteer calling to her from the gate of the run, so he went in to meet her and was greeted with a roll over for a belly rub. He complied and Mia gladly accepted the lead and went to the play yard. Under evaluation in the play yard, she was in very poor body condition with a wobbly back end, two-to three-inch-long nails and mammary tumors which had to weigh 5-10 pounds. She was so sweet and nice the volunteer couldn't leave her at the shelter, so he asked to foster her for the shelter until her stray hold was up. No one came to claim Mia, so she is now in rescue.

Mia has had her mammary tumors removed, which were benign, she's had all four feet nail trimmed to get her nails back to a normal length and is now a perfect weight. Mia does have arthritis and takes anti-inflammatory meds and still has a bit of a wobbly back end. Her wobbly back end is much improved with daily walks and playtime with the two puppies she's been fostered with.

Mia is an absolute doll and house princess with impeccable house manners and is an amazing companion pet. She will be your shadow and follow you everywhere, then plop on a bed and curl up for a nap. At some point in her life, someone worked with her as she knows all the basic commands and will work for treats and she loves to be trained!

She might be a house princess, but she wants to go, go, go. She wants out of the house and to be part of the world. She loves her walks and to be taken to pet friendly establishments. Everyone who has met Mia loves her and she just eats up the attention.

Mia is being fostered with a bunch of GSDs, resident and foster, and gets along with all, but she has a special affinity for puppies. Her foster dad has had two puppies since Mia came to his house and she's become best friends with both. She loves to play with them and you would think this girl is six years old when she's playing with the puppies.

The ideal home for Mia would be a home who wants a turn key, lovely companion pet who wants to go everywhere with you and when done, snuggle up in the nearest bed. She seems to enjoy the company of the resident dogs and playful young dogs, but we believe she could be an only dog.

Even though Mia is older, you would be missing out if you don't look at this girl!

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


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.


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.

Amos Head


Amos is an active 8-month old pup. He was a stray at a local shelter, so nothing is known of his background.

Amos is happy to play chase and wrestle with other dogs outside. Indoors, he is learning to relax on a dog bed and chew dog toys. He is quite the goofy puppy at times, chasing the cat just for fun or prancing around with a ball.

He loves to be with his people, and jumps up to get attention or to be let indoors. He is learning to sit to get what he wants, but still needs to work on his manners. Because of this, older kids and people steady on their feet will be a better match for him. He walks on a loose leash, but isn't sure how to heel correctly yet. He goes to bed when told in his crate.

While Amos is still working on his manners, he's making progress and will be a great companion for a home ready to invest in continuing his training.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Grace Head


Grace is a 1-2 year old Black and Tan female with a somewhat freckled face. She is on the small side at around 55 lbs. She is underweight. She came from a local shelter, so nothing is known of her past. She appears to have had at least one litter of puppies.

Grace was extremely timid when she arrived. It doesn’t appear she was ever let out of a crate as everything was new for her: floors, stairs, pools, bushes…you name it. The first time she went on a walk she spent the whole time trying to cower under parked cars. However, with time, this little girl is really blossoming. She loves playing with her big brother, Jett, and is learning how to navigate life.

She walks well on leash, but can still be scared by loud noises. She is housebroken and has learned how to use a dog door.

She knows come, sit and is working on down.

This little girl promises to be a really great dog.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Huck Head


Huck is a small Black and Tan male, 7.5 months old and up to 34 lbs. He was a stray from a local shelter so we have no details of his past.

Huck is a nervous boy and slow to warm up to new dogs and people. Once he does, he's affectionate and loves to play. He's a bit of a drama queen if he thinks he's going to be hurt and doesn’t tolerate a prong collar for that reason. He's mostly housebroken and will use a dog door. He would do best in a home with another confident, playful dog to provide him security when in public. He’s curious about the resident cat, but shows no sign of aggression toward her. Nylabones and toys are necessary to redirect any unacceptable chewing.

Huck sits for his meal and will lay down when told if you're eating or don't want to be pestered by him. Formal obedience training and socialization are needed to make this young boy into a great dog.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Kash Head


Kash is a robust red and black 4 yo old German Shepherd male weighing 90+ lbs. Due to a change in circumstances, he was relinquished by his lifetime owner. Throughout his life, his owner supported Kash's needs very well, allowing him to flourish into a very delightful canine companion.

This boy enjoys meeting all humans with curiosity and ease. Kash's friendly and overall calm demeanor allows him to settle well, even among a crowd of strangers. If presented with the opportunity, he will readily engage in a game of fetch with a ball and then take a dip in the pool! Inside the home, Kash displays excellent house manners where he will simply lay quietly on his dog bed near his human.

When Kash meets other dogs, he is curious and might even explode with romping puppy-energy. He engages in frequent play with his large foster brother, but he tones down his energy around his petite female foster sister. She sets clear boundaries to her large brothers who can accidentally bump into her, and they both respect her space well. Treats and food capture his attention, but he will wait patiently for his turn to receive his food bowl.

Kash is housebroken and is also accustomed to using a dog door. He walks gently on a leash and ignores other barking dogs along his path. At night, he readily enters his crate where he sleeps quietly. Kash is also eager to join you on a car ride where he is ready to experience any new adventure and discover what life has to offer! This guy will undoubtedly be a special addition to a very loving home.

Cats and small critters unknown.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Miss Daisy Head

Miss Daisy

Miss Daisy is 6-7 year-old black and tan female Shepherd weighing 68lbs. She came into rescue with an 11 lbs. tumor hanging from her abdomen. The tumor was not cancerous and has been removed. She has healed from the surgery and is ready to find her forever home.

When she first came into rescue, she suffered from separation anxiety. When left alone at home, she would whine and occasionally becomes destructive. Miss Daisy would do well in a home where someone is home most of the time, and a slow transition into a daily routine of time away from her humans.

Miss Daisy loves human affection and would love nothing more than to be in the company of her people. She is learning to wait her turn when other dogs are receiving attention.

She is currently fostered in a home with another adult female GSD and 2 adult male GSDs. She gets along well with all of the dogs, and loves to play with the other female in the home. She is crate trained, but is allowed to sleep on a dog bed in her foster mom's bedroom at night with the other dogs, without any incidents.

She knows basic commands, such as sit, off, and leave it. We are still working on leash manners as she has a tendency to pull on the leash. Gentle corrections are needed as she has a tendency to pancake to the floor if a raised voiced is used.

She will look at you with her soulful eyes as she tries to sneak onto the couch, but will happily choose the dog bed when corrected. She is housebroken with the use of a dog door.

Miss Daisy does exhibit some prey drive, so a home without cats or small dogs is a must.

She is looking for a home that will continue her socialization, training, and help her to build her confidence.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Pascal Head


Pascal is a 4 year old male with traditional Black and Tan coloring. He came from a local shelter so nothing is known about his background.

Pascal lives with a female shepherd and constantly follows her around begging her to play. He prefers to play chase in the yard with dogs and humans alike. Pascal also loves to play with water especially when the hose is set to a jet spray. He gets a little excited and rambunctious when first getting out on a walk but settles in quickly with proper corrections.

Pascal has great house manners and is housebroken with the use of a dog door. He is crate trained and sleeps nicely free or in a crate at night. He is quite protective of his home once he settles in and needs to be introduced properly to guests that visit. With controlled introductions he will settle down and return to his nice house manners.

This sweet boy will make a nice addition to a family that will continue his training and provide the necessary structure which will allow him to flourish.

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


Randy Head


Randy is a large 4 year old white shepherd with one floppy ear. He came to us from a local shelter so nothing is known about his background. He loves to meet new people and prefers to spend his time inside.

Randy has pretty good house manners and is generally eager to please people. He is housebroken with the use of a dog door and sleeps nicely in a crate at night. When asked to sit he prefers to sit right next to you and leans in for extra attention.

Randy currently lives with an older female shepherd and enjoys her company. He often initiates play inside, but when she runs outside to go play he hasn't quite figured out he is supposed to follow. If she doesn't want to play he nicely finds a place inside to settle down. Randy would likely spend much more time playing with other dogs if he had a more enthusiastic playmate.

Randy is learning how to walk on leash, often does best when not asked to walk at a tight heel, and he seems to walk best with an extra 6-12 inches of leash. He gets a little nervous when big or loud cars go by but he is learning to trust that he is safe walking side by side with his human. If Randy gets a little distracted or overexcited during walks, a quick correction and structure helps settle him back down and continue on. Randy enjoys meeting other happy dogs of all sizes when out for walks.

He has not been tested around cats or other small critters.

This is a Level 2 Dog.


Shane Head


Shane is approximately 9 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.


Shannon Head


Shannon is an adorable black and tan, 9 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.



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.

Vanellope Head


Vanellope is an adorable sable female born on 2/8/22. She has been in a foster home with cats, another young pup and two adult dogs and older children. She is affectionate and willing to please.

Vanellope will hold her own with dogs and doesn't appear fearful regardless of the size of the other dog. She is not quite house broken, but should learn quickly when she has someone home enough to get her out for regular potty breaks. She's also starting her teething stage so lots of toys to redirect her from putting her mouth on human hands when trying to play is critical.

Continuous exercise and socialization are important for a pup her age. Enrolling in obedience training will help bond her to her human and help her become a well behaved dog. Another well-behaved, playful male dog would be preferred and/or someone who is home most of the time to keep Vanellope out of trouble, will be important.

Vanellope is used to dog-savvy cats. Small critters unknown.

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


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.