10 Best German Shepherd Rescues for Adoption (2021): Our Top 10 Picks!

Best German Shepherd Rescue for Adoption

For potential owners who want to avoid the rather expensive cost of buying a German Shepherd from a breeder, choosing to rescue one is a much practical and humane choice.

You can save a GSD in dire need of a home from local shelters or specialist rescues without breaking the bank.

Many of these GSDs become eligible for adoption at various stages of their lives, from puppies to senior dogs.

To make the process easier, I’ll give you our top 10 picks for German Shepherd rescues in this article. Hopefully, you’ll find the information below helpful in your pet quest!

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Most of the German Shepherd rescues in this list follow the same adoption process. If you want to ace your application, I suggest that you read our ultimate adoption guide which features key tips and techniques starting from choosing the breed to home introduction.

Top 10 German Shepherd Rescues to Find German Shepherds for Adoption

Here’s my list of reputable rescue shelters after extensive research on numerous German Shepherd rescues in the United States.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to about their reputation and their respective dog adoption process, so I’m excited to share them with you.

1. German Shepherd Rescue & Adoptions (GSRA) – North Carolina

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and supporting the Carolinas and Virginia, German Shepherd Rescue & Adoptions (GSRA) comprises dedicated volunteers offering essential care and adoption services to neglected, stray, or surrendered German Shepherd Dogs.

This rescue primarily focuses on rescuing German Shepherds, although other breeds and mixed breeds are occasionally included.

Their goal is to make a difference in the lives of GSDs through:

  • Adoption services
  • Catering to surrenders of German Shepherd Dogs
  • Saving rescued dogs’ lives and reducing pet overpopulation in the area
  • Educating the general public on the importance of adoptions and dog spaying and neutering

It would be best if you’re near the area, as this organization only allows adoptees living in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

You can find your ideal GSD through their website by filtering their age (young, adult, senior), gender, or mixed-breed rescues.

German Shepherd Rescue & Adoptions (GSRA) Information and Details:

2. Westside German Shepherd Rescue – Los Angeles

Westside German Shepherd Rescue is based in Los Angeles, focused primarily on rehoming rescue German Shepherds to loving, qualified families. They have approximately 80 dogs waiting eagerly to find their forever homes.

Upon sending your application, an adoption counselor will get in touch shortly after 24 to 48 hours.

They have a general adoption fee of $375 for adults and $475 for puppies. Adoption fees can vary based on the dog’s medical conditions, age, temperament, training, and other factors.

Currently, they are only catering and showing rescued dogs to pre-approved applicants. There is no on-site screening at this time.

If you have submitted an online application but unapproved by their volunteers, you cannot come down to the center to meet dogs– as they won’t be able to show you any.

Westside German Shepherd Rescue Information and Details:

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3. German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County (GSROC) – California

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County (GSROC) is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming purebred German Shepherd Dogs that have nowhere else to turn. They prioritize potential adoptees who have no children or other animals at home.

Through a careful screening process, loving dogs are placed into forever homes with compassionate individuals and families.

It begins with an application, which tells about an individual’s lifestyle, experience level with pets, and personal preference so GSROC can recommend a pet match.

Prospective adopters must be at least 23 years old or older to adopt through the organization. A home visit is required before any dog is placed, but with the current COVID health situation, a virtual home visit using video call will do just fine.

Due to limited resources and volunteers, GSROC can only place dogs in the greater Southern California area, Arizona, and Las Vegas, NV.

You can also visit their website’s Resources page for more information about other shepherd rescue organizations.

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County (GSROC) Information and Details:

4. German Shepherd Rescue of New England (GSRNE) – New England

German Shepherd Rescue of New England (GSRNE) commits to providing a haven for rescue German Shepherds.

Every dog in their program is assessed for temperament and behavior, spayed or neutered, has up-to-date vaccines, and receives necessary medical attention.

The group makes every effort to match the best dog with the suitable adopters, ensuring that rescued dogs have a forever home. Their German Shepherds are placed in the six New England states (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI).

GSRNE cannot “reserve” specific dogs for you to visit. The process starts with the adoption application and a home visit interview, which allows the organization to decide which dog is the best fit for you and your family.

The general adoption fee is $300 for puppies to seven years old and $150 for seniors eight years and older. Interested adopters can visit their Adoption Process page for more information on adopting a German Shepherd.

German Shepherd Rescue of New England (GSRNE) Information and Details:

5. German Shepherd Rescue of Southeastern Pennsylvania (GSR-SP) – Philadelphia, PA

In early 1999, the German Shepherd Rescue of Southeastern Pennsylvania (GSR-SP) was founded as a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization. The group provides services to shelters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.

To assist potential German Shepherd adopters find the best dog for their family and lifestyle, they collect information through an Adoption Questionnaire and speak with them about their preferences and limitations about dog care and training.

For interested adopters, there is a non-refundable processing fee of $20.

If the adoption is successful, the overall adoption fee will be calculated using the rates below, minus the $20 initial processing fee:

  • Dogs under the age of 1 year: $300
  • Dogs aged 1 to 6 years: $200
  • Dogs over six years: $100

German Shepherds from GSR-SP have almost always received complete preventative treatment including up-to-date vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and heartworm testing. Adopters will also receive a record of the dog’s vaccinations.

German Shepherd Rescue of Southeastern Pennsylvania (GSR-SP) Information and Details:

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6. German Shepherd Dog Rescue Group of GA – Atlanta, Georgia

Since its inception in 2004, the goal of German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Georgia is to find caring, permanent homes for rescue German Shepherds who have been abandoned or surrendered in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

Since the rescue does not have a physical shelter, they depend on volunteer foster homes to care for dogs before they are adopted. They have several foster homes in Metro Atlanta and the north Georgia area.

Before arranging any appointments with the rescued dogs, all prospective adopters must first complete the adoption application and pass the pre-approval review.

Take note that the rescue does not have foster families who live outside of Georgia. Hence it would be best if you ideally lived nearby.

All application requests are assessed based on the details given, such as the presence of children or other pets in the household, the dog’s possible living conditions, and any prior GSD experience.

German Shepherd Dog Rescue Group of GA Information and Details:

7. Dogs Hope German Shepherd & All Breed Rescue – Lake County, Ohio

Dogs Hope German Shepherd & All Breed Rescue is primarily run by two volunteers, namely Deb and Jan. They are not a shelter or facility where the dogs are available for viewing or surrendering.

Instead, they are two people who care for animals and strive to support any animal in need to the best of their abilities.

For interested adopters, you must be at least 21 years old to adopt. You are also required to list three personal references in your application form who can attest to your dog-caring abilities.

The application also asks interested adopters about their previous experience in caring for German Shepherds, the hours in a day when the dogs will be home alone, the existence of a completely fenced yard with no gaps, and the number of other pets in the household.

Dogs Hope German Shepherd & All Breed Rescue Information and Details:

8. Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue (AGSDR) – Texas

Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue (AGSDR) was first established in 1998, with a mission “to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome German Shepherd Dogs from across the State of Texas.”

The group supports rescue German Shepherds who may otherwise be neglected or overlooked, as well as GSDs who are highly in-demand.

Their adoption procedure goes as follows:

  • Fill out an adoption application. You must have a letter from your landlord or HOA whether you are renting/leasing or own a condo or townhome.
  • An AGSDR volunteer will contact your veterinarian and personal references. Please authorize the vet to share details with AGSDR.
  • AGSDR volunteers will contact you to arrange a home visit.
  • If approved to adopt, you will be connected with the foster for your preferred German Shepherd.
  • Adoption contracts and a $300 minimum adoption fee are expected. The minimum adoption fee for puppies is $350.

After you first bring your dog home, there will be an adjustment period which can range from a few days to weeks or months. Hence be prepared not to take it personally if it takes a while.

It would be best to do some research into some helpful ways so your new GSD will adjust to your home sooner.

Austin German Shepherd Dog Rescue (AGSDR) Information and Details:

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9. Garden State German Shepherd Rescue (GSGSR) – New Jersey

Garden State German Shepherd Rescue (GSGSR) is a foster-based organization that relies entirely on volunteers to open their homes and hearts to unwanted and neglected rescue German Shepherds.

The majority of their dogs came from other rescues, pounds, and shelters where they were on the verge of being euthanized due to overcrowding.

If you’re interested in adopting a new GSD, fill out an adoption application and a volunteer will contact you as soon as you’ve been accepted. Adoptable dogs can only be met by approved applicants, as the primary goal of GSGSR is to find the right family for each dog.

There is no guarantee that a particular German Shepherd will be the right match for your family upon applying, but rest assured, the group does their best in finding the right dog for interested adopters.

Garden State German Shepherd Rescue (GSGSR) Information and Details:

10. BrightStar German Shepherd Rescue – Rochester, New York

Formed in 2002, BrightStar German Shepherd Rescue is dedicated to saving the lives of German Shepherd Dogs. Every year, hundreds of homeless German Shepherds find new forever homes, all thanks to the organization’s efforts.

If you’re interested in adopting a rescue German Shepherd, make sure to pay the $20 non-refundable application fee first for your application to be reviewed.

Inform your vet as soon as possible and allow permission to talk to the group’s representatives about your records to avoid the hassle. Do note that the rescued dogs are often adopted out of a 150-mile radius of Rochester, New York.

If you live outside of the area, please contact the organization to discuss your situation before applying. Remember, you will be in charge of picking up your new puppy.

BrightStar German Shepherd Rescue Information and Details:

Another thing that can help you significantly with your dog hunt is reading our ultimate dog adoption guide. This alongside the German Shepherd rescue options from our directory will increase your chances of bringing home the dog you desire.

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Other Sources for German Shepherd Rescues or Shelters for Adoption

Two adult German Shepherds for adoption

If you’re still having trouble locating a suitable rescue GSD rescue or shelter after checking out the top 10 rescue websites mentioned above, here are some other options:

  • Adopt-a-Pet – Formerly known as 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com, this organization has helped over 21,000 pet rescue groups, shelters, SPCA’s, humane societies, and pet adoption agencies all over the USA. Interested adopters must first register on their website to find an adoptable German Shepherd.
  • Petfinder – This is an online, searchable database of pets who need loving forever homes. With a directory of about 11,000 animal adoption organizations and shelters from the USA, Mexico, and Canada, you might find the right German Shepherd for you through this site.
  • Rescue Me – It serves as an online listing network for abandoned and homeless dogs by breed and state. Upon clicking on your desired state, you’ll be able to see the German Shepherds currently available for adoption.
  • Local Animal Shelters and Rescue Organizations – The best places to start searching for a new family dog are still local animal shelters and rescue homes. Local shelters can be the cheapest and easiest way for you to adopt one of these popular and in-demand GSDs into your own family.

Before calling your local rescue or filling in that adoption form, ensure this breed is the best match for you by watching this informative video on what you need to know about the German Shepherd:

All about the German Shepherd - History, care & training

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Why Do People Put German Shepherds up for Adoption or in a Rescue?

Many German Shepherds are surrendered to animal shelters and rescues or put on adoption websites by their owners because of the following reasons:

  • The owner is relocating and will be unable to bring their pets with them.
  • The owner lacks the necessary time to care for the German Shepherd properly.
  • The owner cannot pay for the dog’s maintenance, existing vet expenses, or costly medical procedures.
  • The owner cannot cope with the GSD’s undesirable habits, such as biting and displaying aggression/hostility.
  • The landlord of the owner’s apartment may not allow dogs (or other pets) within the premises.
  • There are far too many pets in the household.
  • The owner has to focus on urgent, pressing personal problems.
  • The owner has a drastic change of heart and no longer considers the German Shepherd a valuable family member.
  • Taking proper care of a German Shepherd can be difficult if the owner’s health, age, disease, or disability is declining.

Regardless of the cause, saying farewell to a beloved companion animal is always a difficult decision. Most owners are advised to seek assistance and, if possible, explore alternatives such as surrendering their GSDs to local shelters.

Fortunately, there’s no reason to be concerned about adopting a rescued GSD with behavioral issues. Most reputable animal care organizations and rescue shelters are dedicated to properly rehabilitating them before placing them up for adoption.

How Much Should It Cost to Adopt a German Shepherd?

A purebred GSD puppy from a reputable breeder will cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Adopting a rescue German Shepherd, on the other hand, may only cost you $150 to $600 on average to cover the costs of caring for the pet before adoption.

If you’re a penny-pinching, genuine dog lover, it’s a very fair price to pay in adding a new member to the family.

Refer to the table below to see where your adoption fee goes:

ExpensesAverage Cost
Vet Checkups$50 – $100
Rabies Vaccination$15 – $30
Distemper Vaccination$40 – $60
Spaying/Neutering$150 – $300
Heartworm Test$15 – $50
Flea/Tick Treatment$50 – $200
Deworming$20 – $50
Microchip$20 – $70
Collar and ID Tag$5 – $20
Total$365 – $880

Based on the table above, the maintenance fees for your dog during their duration at the rescue are likely to be more expensive than the adoption fee.

Fortunately, some animal rescue organizations may waive some of the fees for senior dogs or dogs who have already received vaccinations and other treatments from their previous owners.

Is It Difficult to Adopt a German Shepherd From a Rescue?

Woman walking with a German Shepherd rescue

Though a highly in-demand breed, there are several rescue German Shepherds in different shelters across the country. It all boils down to the question of: will your adoption application be approved?

Two factors will largely determine your application’s success: your capability and readiness to be a pet owner and the organization’s adoption process.

Some German Shepherd rescue groups are stricter in enforcing their policies because the safety of their dogs is their top priority.

To ensure that you are a suitable adopter, they will perform home visits, conduct interviews, and ask for personal references.

To ensure your time and efforts will be successful, take time to learn what rescue organizations are looking for in prospective candidates.

If they find something about your application that is rather unsatisfactory to their requirements, your application may be likely rejected in the end.

Evaluate yourself: are you truly ready for pet-owning? Whether you like it or not, this aspect will have a significant impact on your adoption application.

One possible deal-breaker to rescues is a potential adopter’s lifestyle. Most organizations would want to ensure that their adopters have ample time to devote to their pets.

The process of adopting a German Shepherd can take a while, so it’s better to be prepared for it to take time.

While these local animal shelters want to rehome their pets as soon as possible, they also want to ensure that these dogs end up in their forever homes.

5 Tips for Getting Approved By a Rescue to Adopt a German Shepherd

A successful German Shepherd rescue adoption requires hard work and commitment on your part.

Although it’s not easy to pass several screenings given the strictness of each process varies in every rescue organization, you need to follow each requirement for your application to be accepted carefully.

Here are some valuable pointers to remember when adopting a GSD from a rescue:

  • Become a German Shepherd specialist. Learn what there is to know about the breed, as it takes careful research to bring the right dog into your home. Talk to other GSD owners to get a better understanding of their attitude and general demeanor.
  • In your adoption application, provide as much detail as possible. Regardless of whether you’re applying in-person at a shelter or online via a website, it would help if you were as honest as possible when answering the questions. It will demonstrate your genuine intentions to the shelter evaluator.
  • Make sure your home is ready for the new GSD. After placing your application, most shelters will likely arrange a home visit. Before getting a new pet, make sure your home is safe, which involves putting up a fence so the dog can’t escape and keeping poisonous and toxic items out of the paw’s reach.
  • Ask relevant questions. If you have any concerns about the GSD you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to ask the staff. It will also count towards your scoresheet’s effort factor. Ask about the dog’s duration in the facility, temperament, health problems, whether or not it has been spayed/neutered and is up to date on vaccines.
  • Pay a visit to the German Shepherd rescue. You can observe the dog in the rescue shelter or where it’s currently fostered if you pay a personal visit. It also shows the staff your willingness to devote time to the dog.

Remember that every German Shepherd rescue organization is different. These tips can vary in effectiveness from one case to another.

It is then essential to understand and review each rescue’s policies to ensure that your adoption application goes smoothly.

Final Thoughts: Which German Shepherd Rescue Is Right for You?

German Shepherds are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. Fortunately, adopting GSDs from rescues is less expensive than buying puppies from breeders. You’ll have more money to allot on your dog’s care and maintenance.

Not every adoption application, however, is guaranteed to be successful. Your application may be rejected, but it’s up to you to keep trying. At the right time, you’ll find a suitable German Shepherd waiting for you to bring them home.

As you continue your quest to find the right German Shepherd, remember that these rescued pets need loving human companions who are committed to their happiness, well-being, and safety.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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