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German Shepherd Rescue Guide - How To Prepare

German Shepherd Rescue

Deciding to seek out a German Shepherd rescue for your new best friend instead of buying a pup is a beautiful and admirable thing. Not only are you helping to find a home for a dog in a shelter, but you will also bring joy to their life in more ways than you know. And they will bring you happiness and purpose in return. German Shepherd rescues can be still very young, middle-aged, or even seniors - and that's half the fun of searching for the right one for you. (Be sure to check out the Nationwide list of GSD rescues at the end of this article)

How Much Do You Know About German Shepherds?

The more you can read up about GSDs, the better, regardless of whether you buy or adopt.

When you read up on all things GSD (rather than just 'dogs'), you are setting your expectations in the right area. Whether pup or senior, your German Shepherd rescue will shed great big long hairs all over your clothes upon giving hugs. Knowing this in advance means you won't be annoyed when it happens every day. Do you have children or other pets that will need additional attention? Do you have a yard for your new GSD? If not, are you willing to go on multiple walks? Do you live in an apartment building or condo?

Planning for these things in advance will reduce the effect they have on you and your new dog, whatever they are. It can also make your bond more special as they are treated as an individual. In your mind, they are something that needs a tailored approach, so you are willing to give your new German Shepherd rescue total dedication.

Is It Better To Adopt Instead Of Buying?

Many people find at the start of their search that there are two main choices for their German Shepherd (GSD) desire: Adopt or Buy. There are many things to consider on each side, including the life of the German Shepherd rescue you are considering, as well as your own preferences.

However, the call of a pup for some people is too strong. This can be risky if they haven't thought through the requirements of such a large, active, high-shed breed. Needless to say, with rapid growth, molted coats, large appetite, and high intelligence, some people realize it isn't for them. It's nothing that the pups did wrong. They are still as loving as ever, but too often, teenage GSD's (1-2 years old) are either returned to the breeder or become another German Shepherd rescue case.

This could be to your advantage as you could offer these adoring creatures the perfect home. They have already gone through the sharp teeth stage, ankle-biting, and toilet training. They are now ready for your 1:1 attention, and their purpose can be found. We aren't saying that some people looking for a GSD don't want to experience their dog from a pup (warts and all) but then who would home these older pups or dogs who have been given up on?

German Shepherd Rescue

What Are The Pros & Cons Of A German Shepherd Rescue?

Of course, there are good things to consider and potential challenges with a German Shepherd rescue dog. Yes, there could be some issues or behaviors that have either been created or gone unnoticed up until now in their life. However, if you love a challenge and you're focused on giving love to your new GSD, then there isn't anything you can't work through or forgive later.

Pros will include some of the best things about German Shepherd rescues. Their strong characters are already in place. You know what you are getting from Day 1, and you can work with it. They will have already been vaccinated and possibly already neutered. If they have already had a health issue, you know that when you take them on. They may also have had basic training already, be lead trained to recall, and can be readily accepted into your family.

There could be hidden problems, of course, but always look at these in the sense that they aren't the dog's fault. They are a product of their poor start in life. These dogs may have been neglected, mistreated, chained outside unattended for days or months, passed around between a succession of owners, or even cruelly abandoned. You can't blame any German Shepherd rescues you find for not jumping up all waggy when you first meet them.

With the support of the rescue and patience, you can help release them from their past traumas or neglect.

What Are The Costs Of A German Shepherd Rescue Over Buying From A Breeder?

Depending on the line you are buying from (or their advertising), you could be expecting to pay upwards of 10 times more for a new puppy than you would for a rescue. German Shepherd rescues can be as little as $100, but pedigree or show quality puppies can be as much as $5000! For more specifics on expected costs for GSD rescues vs. puppies, see our article here.

Depending on where you live, German Shepherd rescue costs really could be minimal. Generally, an adoption fee is relatively low and often includes worming and flea treatments, starter insurance, and a neuter voucher if needed. They often can give you anything that came with the dog when surrendered and offer good-condition, second-hand dog paraphernalia that the public has donated.

Rather than leave you to it, rescues often give a free follow-up care package too. Their private vet often treats any health issues that exist or are identified shortly after homing and, in rare circumstances, fully paid for by the charity themselves.

Behavioral issues aren't ignored either. They want you to enjoy your new dog. Often rescues also hire out or sell low-cost training crates and other essential equipment to help your new German Shepherd rescue settle in and stay safe. Day-to-day free advice and recommendations for known and trusted behaviorists are usually just a phone call away.

Not that buying a puppy won't get you this full package of things with the right breeder, but generally, it doesn't even include the wormers. Usually, as the new owner, you are expected to pay for everything yourself from Day 1. This is not an issue if you are committed and take out great insurance from the day of collection. Never-the-less these will be an additional set of costs on top of the purchase price.

As always, we highly recommend getting pet health insurance for your dog. It could save you a fortune in the event your rescue pup needs serious health care. It can also cut down the costs on average vet visits. See our article here on the highest rated pet health insurance companies we could find.

Would Fostering A GSD Be A Better First Step?

Absolutely. If you are not quite 100% sure that you are ready for a German Shepherd rescue dog but really want to get things moving and get more experience - fostering is a beautiful alternative. Many rescues and breeders will be really supportive if you say that you want to learn more before just homing a dog. They spend their entire lives making sure their dogs get the best home.

Knowing that you are fully supported throughout and that there is an 'end' to your foster period can make it so much less of a big step. Also, being willing to listen to others and take their advice will make the whole thing run smoothly.

Learning about a breed's nuances can sometimes only be found out by speaking to people who have had or worked with them, so that fostering could be that first step for you. You would then have 'had' a German Shepherd rescue and can start to understand and relate to the breed.

Does Your GSD Need To Be Purebred To Be Perfect?

Keep in mind that getting a "German Shepherd" rescue might not mean it is a pedigree. It makes you think, how much GSD does your dog need to be? If you saw them in the shelter and fell in love and then found out they were 20% "other," would it stop you from homing them?

If you find that you aren't so fussed by your new German Shepherd rescue being purebred anyway, it could potentially open the door to a whole host of other rescues needing a home. A GSD-mix could have the appearance and character of a full GSD; and will undoubtedly have traits that drew you to GSD's in the first place. Perhaps you always wished GSD's could be smaller or bigger anyway?

However, if you are leaning towards just being able to help out any German Shepherd rescues who are in a bad place right now and need a loving home, then none of this ultimately matters. It is their hearts that you are rescuing.

German Shepherd Rescue

Would You Consider a Senior German Shepherd Rescue?

Not all dogs needing loving homes come from shelters. Often breeders will keep hold of stock that they thought could be an excellent show specimen or become part of their breeding program. It doesn't always work out, though, and they end up keeping them in their own home.

However, if they have many dogs (which many do), they sometimes can't always live in the same space. One of them may do better in a single-dog household instead, and you could be that household.

Shelters often also receive older GSD's who have lost their owners to ill health and are suddenly taken from a loving home and processed through a shelter. Imagine that? They won't have the curb appeal of the younger cuter dogs and could end up staying longer there through no fault of their own.

Adopting an older GSD would be perfect then for people who just love the breed and want the wonderful companionship of a beautiful dog in their golden years.

Are You Ready To Rescue?

Finding a dog that you connect with will always be better than choosing a dog from a few pictures online. Knowing a bit about their character and meeting them a few times will allow you to find the German Shepherd rescue of your dreams.

Does it matter if a potential German Shepherd rescue dog is bigger than you thought, or is it a different color to breed standard? Will they love you any less if they are older or have a health condition?

Understanding the breed and knowing their character can match your needs and lifestyle more easily to a potential German Shepherd rescue. It can also be the start of a great new life for the Shepherd. Responding well to training and being very intelligent, you can work with them to create your perfect partner and hopefully a friend for life.


German Shepherd Rescues and Shelters near me

Please note that we do not endorse or recommend any of these rescue shelters specifically. We offer this for informational purposes only. Please perform due diligence prior to purchasing or adopting a German Shepherd.

If anywhere you find a dead link (404 error) in this list, or if your group wants to be added, please contact us:

North East


South East

Central North

Central Mid and South


German Shepherd Rescue

Welcome to the Pack!


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