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.

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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.

Cork Head



Cork is a unique looking brown long coat male, approximately 3 years old, with one adorable floppy ear. He was a stray from a local shelter, so no information is known about his past. From his appearance, he looked liked he'd been on the streets for some time before landing in the shelter.

In his first foster home, Cork enjoyed playing with the other female German Shepherd who was close to his age. He is now in a home with another German Shepherd and a terrier mix. When not playing with the terrier he actively seeks out places to lay where it's cool, ie, soft dirt behind bushes. He will sometimes come when called but not consistently, but usually a food prompt is enough to get him to come. However, when you call him (and he listens) he looks fantastic as he gallops across the yard.

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

Added July 2019


Duke Ellington Head


Duke Ellington

Duke is a 2-year-old male with a medium energy level. A professional trainer purchased him as a puppy. She closed her facility and asked us to find him a home. We soon saw he needed cataract surgery. The generosity of supporters allowed us to have that done for him and he is doing great.

While she did leash train him well, she left him kennelled and only walked him on the property. Because of this lack of socializing, he is fearful of new things. He never acts out negatively, but hides in a corner to escape. New people must earn his trust. He trusts his foster mom, but unexpected movements from even kids in the foster home make him nervous. He warms up quickly to new dogs and loves to play with them. He does well with cats. He is well mannered, both indoors and out.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added November 2018


Pacino Head



Pacino is an almost 7 year old handsome sable-colored male, weighing 89 pounds. He was originally a stray, so nothing is known of his original start in life. Based on some of his behaviors, ie, teeth chattering when excited, he may have a touch of malinois in him for good measure. He has been in our rescue for 9 months and all of his fosters love him.

He is housebroken, uses a dog door, and will go into a crate. He gets along best with other female adult dogs, but can be a bit pushy for other male dogs. He loves going on walks, but can pull hard if excited about something. If given a good corrections, he settles back down. He is also great in the car. Pacino tries to push boundaries when it comes to some behaviors, ie, counter surfing and sneaking on the couch when he thinks no one will notice.

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

Updated bio - August, 2019; Added December 2018


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.

Cristiano Head


Cristiano is a three year old black and tan male. He was surrendered to a local vet so not much is known about his background. We do know he previously lived with a small dog and has greeted all sized dogs nicely since coming into rescue. He is currently living with a female shepherd. They only play occasionally, but he does love the companionship of having her around.

Cristiano is housebroken and has pretty nice manners while inside, but if left unsupervised he may help himself to the trash can if the opportunity presents itself. While he will sleep in a crate at night he does not like to be left alone in the crate and may cry loudly or attempt to get out if left alone. He will prefers to sleep freely on a dog bed in his foster moms room at night.

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

Added August 2019


Judah Head


Judah is a very handsome 5 to 6-year-old, all white long coat male weighing about 70 lbs. He was surrendered to a shelter along with Spark, Havanna and another male when the original owner lost his home. Judah is possibly the sire of the other three white dogs. The previous owner indicates Judah had been an outdoor only dog.

He is one very, very sweet and nice boy! He walks well on a leash, is crate trained (he really doesn't like it) and learned the use of the doggy door within minutes of showing him where it was. As with the others that were surrendered with him, Judah craves human attention but is not obnoxious about it. He has learned that indoor living is the best and has learned to have impeccable house manners. Also, Judah loves to swim and fetch sticks and balls thrown in the lake.

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

Added July 2019


Merc Head


Merc is a stout 80 pound 12- 18 month old boy. He was pulled from a local shelter after a month when he was not re-claimed or adopted. He was picked up by authorities after evading Animal Control officers for a couple hours by jumping fences through several backyards. Merc is an energetic athletic boy who can be a bit mouthy when excited or protesting. He will pull if given the chance, so a correction collar such as a prong collar is needed when walking him. He is very amenable to corrections, and is eager to learn, but does need a handler who is clear with expectations. He sleeps quietly in a crate all night in his fosters bedroom, and settles nicely in the house after a walk to burn off his energy. He rides nicely in a vehicle, easily jumping in and out.

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

Added September 2019


Porsche Head


Porsche was originally with us in December 2013 and was mother to our luxury sports car litter, Astin Martin, DeLorean, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. She was adopted in 2015 but returned recently due to major lifestyle changes, including a divorce for the family who adopted her. During her past 4 years, she successfully lived with young children and a small dog. She was well cared for, going regularly to the vet, groomer and got premium dog food. She is now about 7 years old but appears much younger. She has less grey hair than most dogs her age.

Porsche is housebroken, great in the car, knows basic commands and crate trained. On leash, she mostly ignores other dogs she sees, unless they are off leash and running toward her. She can get protective and stand her ground if she thinks the other dog is a threat. She met the large dogs in foster care with no problem.

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

Added August 2019


Shaggy Head


Shaggy is approximately 7.5 years old male with a gorgeous black and tan plush coat, weighing approximately 75 lbs. This is his second time in our rescue. He was initially adopted from us as a 1 year old and, through no fault of his own, found himself left at a Shelter. Thanks to his microchip, GCGSR was contacted and we were able to retrieve our boy.

He currently resides in a foster home with one senior female (see Betty), where he previously shared the household with two other sequential female partners. With each, he enjoys free roam of the home during long work days. Several of these females have attempted to engage him in play, but sadly, he shows no interest. If pestered by other dogs, he will respond with a clear verbal refusal. This boy simply won't dance. Although he is extremely comfortable and accepting of a large dog pack (that includes both large and small dogs), his preference is to be among the humans.

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

Added September 2018, updated April 2019


Spark Head


Spark is a beautiful two year old, all white female long coat weighing about 65 lbs. She was surrendered to a shelter along with her sister Havana and possible sire Judah when the original owner lost his home. The previous owner indicated Spark had been an outdoor only dog. It is obvious that Spark has had at least one litter of puppies in the past.

This is one sweet girl who walks well on a leash and craves human attention. She appears housebroken as long as she's not left alone inside without human companionship or a means to get outside for long periods of time. She is learning house manners and the sit command. Spark is not food motivated, so praise and affection work best in teaching her new things.

This is a Level 2 Dog.

Added September 2019


Suarez Head


Suarez is a handsome 18 month 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.

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. He appears housebroken and is OK in a crate.

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

Added April 2018


Zelda A Head

Zelda A

Zelda is a high energy, spirited, happy, sweet girl about 3 or 4 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.

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.

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

Added July 2019



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

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

Riverbank (Modesto)
Second Saturday of every month in Riverbank (Modesto):
Crossroads Shopping Center
2341 Claribel Road
Riverbank, CA 95367
(209) 863-1384


Third Saturday of every month in Sacramento:
Pet Food Express
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