How to Adopt

Our adoption process is designed to help you and the right dog find each other. Our goal is to place each dog into a permanent, safe, and loving home.

Adoption Process

To adopt a German Shepherd Dog from us, you must:

  1. Live in selected parts of Northern California that we cover; we do not adopt out of state. We currently adopt to the following areas where we have volunteers so they can do the required in person home visit: San Francisco Bay (including the North Bay), Stockton and Lodi areas, and Sacramento.
  2. Have children OVER the age of 5.  GSGSR does not adopt out dogs to families with children under 5.  
  3. Complete an Adoption Questionnaire. If you do not own your home, you must have your landlord complete the Landlord Letter.
  4. Be interviewed by a GSGSR adoption counselor.
  5. Allow a home visit, conducted by a GSGSR volunteer.
  6. Sign our Adoption Agreement and Release Form, (available from our volunteers), and pay the associated adoption fee.

In choosing the right German Shepherd for you and your family, you may work with several other rescue organizations. Even though you may have filled out a questionnaire from another group, we still ask that you complete our questionnaire, since our criteria and requirements may differ. Thank you for understanding, and we look forward to working with you. We sometimes accept home visit reports from other GSD rescue groups.

The dogs we get in our program in most cases have little to no training and few have house manners. In order to protect all adopters, we have some guidelines we must adhere to in order to prevent injuries. These dogs are big and can easily knock down a young child. Therefore, we do not adopt dogs out to homes where there are children under five.

NOTE: We are an all-volunteer group and we will do our best to process, review, and approve your Adoption Questionnaire within 10 days of receiving it. Occasionally it may take longer. After the Adoption Questionnaire is approved, it will be assigned to an adoption counselor in your area.

Adoption Fees

Effective June 1, 2009 our adoption fees are:

  • $350 for puppies (up to 12 months)
  • $300 for adult dogs (1 - 8 years)
  • $250 for senior dogs (over 8 years)

Before You Adopt

Adopting a German Shepherd Dog is a serious commitment of up to 10-15 years. It requires a lot of planning and commitment to exercise and training. The following information provides some basic information that can help you determine if a German Shepherd is right for your home and family.

  • Is a German Shepherd Dog (GSD) Right for You? – Important information about the German Shepherd Dog breed to consider when deciding whether to adopt a German Shepherd, including a list of the "Top 10 Reasons Why a German Shepherd Dog May NOT be the Dog for You".
  • Children and Dogs – If you have children or if children visit your home, you MUST understand the potential for a dog bite to happen - with ANY dog. Find out what to consider when dogs and children interact and how to keep both dogs and children safe.
  • About our GSGSR Program Dogs – Learn about the dogs in our program - where they come from, the training they will need, and how we learn about their personalities.
  • Finding the Right Dog – What it will take to find the right dog to fit into your family and why we want to make the best match possible.

After You Adopt

The following information will help you learn what to expect when you welcome a new dog into your life.

Dog Rating Levels

The Dog Rating Levels are based on the GSD’s inherent drives, confidence, attitude and personality. German Shepherds are known as high maintenance dogs. Do not add a GSD to your life if you do not have the time, patience and energy to exercise, train and manage them in interactions with all people and all animals. The higher the Rating Level, the more confident and demanding the dog is, and the more of everything the dog will require e.g. exercise, obedience training, management and supervision. Young dogs under 2 years old will probably mature up a Level when they reach adulthood. Don’t mistake a smaller size for an easier dog!

Note: Any dog can exhibit atypical behavior under conditions that are stressful for it.

Level 1 dogs require the least exercise and training:

  • They tend to be willing to go along and get along, and want to avoid trouble. They tend to be gentle, soft, mellow dogs.
  • Usually Low to Moderate Energy. Suitable for senior or novice households.

Level 2 dogs require daily exercise of at least 1 -2 hours and some basic training:

  • They tend to be a mix of confidence and submissiveness and want to please their owners.
  • Usually Moderate Energy, that can usually be satisfied with daily walks and play or training time. They tend to need some basic obedience lessons, and some supervision and management in certain situations. Can do well in novice homes that provide training and exercise.

Level 3 dogs need strong leadership and daily training and exercise:

  • These are dogs with the standard breed temperament. Confident, assertive and pushy, will challenge leadership status. Independent problem-solvers that will try to out-think their owners. Usually require owners with prior GSD or similar experience or access to trainer assistance. This level of rescue dog are often untrained and physically stronger dogs, but they are highly trainable as family pets. These are not competition dogs nor working dogs. This is our average, well bred, 1-3 year old adolescent dog, especially males. With training, these dogs often mature to a level 2 at the age of about 4 years old.
  • Usually Moderate to High Energy. Need physical and mental exercise, every day including in the rain or snow.

Level 4 dogs require a tremendous amount of time commitment, knowledge of the breed, and training:

  • Puppy Level 4: All GSD puppies are Level 4. They require owners who are home often enough, and have enough patience, time, energy, and experience to appropriately exercise and train a GSD puppy and make it through the nipping, chewing, digging, jumping up on people, clawing, mouthing, barking and destroying your most expensive items stages, that usually last from 8 weeks to 2 years old. Must have prior puppy training experience.
  • Adult Level 4: Usually High energy. When awake they never slow down This type of dog is highly trainable but is fast, strong, and intelligent with strong working desire. This dog is always ready to work and requires lots of obedience work and play time every day to thrive. Level 4 dogs are usually competition dogs or powerful dogs in need of a job. These dogs live to work for a toy. These dogs are rare in our rescue.

Level 5 dogs require professional handlers with the knowledge, experience and strength to keep them under control.

  • Very confident, very pushy, extremely competitive. Usually ball, toy or prey obsessed. Very high drive and high focus, will often scream, whine and nip in frustration to DO SOMETHING, NOW! 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. This type of dog is not a pet and will never be in our program as they are for professionals or top competition dog owners.