Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

We are often asked what the dog levels mean.  Is a level 3 better than a level 2?  Or is a level 2 better than a level 1?  No! 

German Shepherds are a large working breed. Versus most other breeds, a typical German Shepherd will have more energy and be more demanding to own. Our levels are a broad guide to the degree of difficulty in owning a German Shepherd. Most other breeds would start at level zero and rarely reach a level 2. Think of levels as representing the strength of the sea.  The inexperienced swimmer will struggle in strong tides... it's the same with a GSD. 


The Companion German Shepherd (level 1)

Some of the German Shepherds in our program make ideal companion dogs and will fit perfectly into a slower life style or a family where young kids are around.

These dogs are easier to own and require less stimulation and daily activity.  Many of our favorite dogs over the years have been level 1 dogs because they have a sweetness of temperament and gentleness that we love.  It's as close to plug and play as you can get.


The Typical German Shepherd (level 2)

If you have not owned a high energy large working breed dog before, you're going to be surprised at just how much energy your typical German Shepherd dog actually has. They will hike all day and demonstrate all the classic instincts and traits of this breed that we love. This is the best dog for most owners. The dog will be great with people and other dogs and have no real behavioral issues. 

A typical German Shepherd will have enough energy to hike and run more than 99% of all known humans :-) 

If you have never personally owned a large breed dog, this will be a challenge and only manageable if you are committed to training, establishing proper pack structure and have a serious commitment to your dog.    

The Challenging German Shepherd (level 3)

This dog is the same as a level 2 with more energy or there may be some aspects to its temperament that need work from its new handler. This might be high prey drive (aggression towards critters). It could be uncontrolled energy that can be difficult for your kids.  It might be a lack of basic obedience that will require the new owner to commit to serious 1:1 training. It could involve minor leash reactivity towards other dogs that will require more training.  Some larger dogs are very mouthy and take treats roughly. All of these behaviors will be too much for the inexperienced owner. 

Our dogs are good dogs, but some need more work that others. 

A level 3 dog is not for anyone who has never owned a large working breed dog. If you have young children we will have to be very careful. We will also expect that you can demonstrate good large dog handling capabilities that are beyond pet store "puppy class".

Continuing the sea analogy - we will be your lifeguard on the beach and when we say that it's too rough out there, we're saying it for your benefit.


German Shepherd Puppies (level 4)

Puppies are a level 4 dog.  In fact most of our foster parents don't want puppies!  There's a reason. German Shepherd puppies can be relentless, with boundless energy and razor sharp teeth in strong jaws and no self control to not nip and chew anything they can find. Unless you can demonstrate that you have personally managed a working breed puppy, you won't be able to adopt a puppy.

The first year of a German Shepherd's life is critical for many reasons. People give up dogs because they have failed to properly socialize the dog in it's first 12 months. The dog becomes reactive. Owning a German Shepherd puppy is a large responsibility that involves a lot of time, sleepless nights, commitment and experience.

Many people think that unless they get a puppy the dog will not bond with them.  As foster parents of over 1,000 German Shepherds we can tell you this is simply not true.  Our foster dogs bond with us at all ages and are often ecstatic when they return to our events and meet us again.   


The Working German Shepherd (level 5)

We rarely have these dogs in our program. They have been bred to work and have a degree of intensity and focus that is sought out by trainers and the police. They are not family pets. In the right hands they are epic dogs.  With 99.9% of owners they are potentially dangerous.

We have a whole series of contacts that we reach out to with these dogs.  If you are interested in a level 5 dog you will need to demonstrate your experience and capabilities to our trainers.


We hope this is helpful.  As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your adoption counselor, or email us here .