I don't have the money to buy one from a reputable breeder and it's almost the same thing as buying one from my friend except of course for the fact that the reputable breeder will provide a much better quality dog.
No, it's not at all the same thing. One of those choices supports the welfare of the breed that we all love. The other does not.
If you truly want to adopt from a rescue or shelter, and you can't find the exact puppy you want, then my first recommendation would be to broaden your criteria. Consider adopting an adolescent or adult dog, and consider mixes in addition to purebred puppies.
In most parts of the U.S. (and, from what I hear, most parts of Canada), it is not difficult to find adopters for purebred puppies. Demand for those dogs is very high, they get adopted quickly, and they tend to have their choices of excellent homes. There's often a long waiting list for these dogs. Everybody
wants those puppies, because there is this widespread idea that a puppy will be a clean slate and totally malleable, and that a purebred puppy will automatically have the complement of traits that people stereotypically associate with its breed.
Both of those ideas are, in my opinion, completely wrongheaded. Puppies are not clean slates, they're crapshoots, especially puppies from unknown backgrounds (as most rescue and shelter pups are). Purebred dogs do not
always have the traits that people associate with their breed stereotypes.
So if you want to rescue a dog, my advice is to figure out what you actually
want -- what personality traits, what energy level, what kind of temperament -- and then look for a dog somewhere in the 6-month to 3-year range that has that personality and activity level.
Sometimes the right dog for you does not come in the package you anticipated. I have an Akita mix foster dog coming this weekend who will, in all probability, have a fantastic
family dog personality: calm, gentle, affectionate, playful, sociable to people and other animals -- in short, not at all what people tend to associate with stereotypical Akitas. She's about a year old, so her personality and structure will be pretty much set. No crapshoot there: she's mature enough that what you see is what you get. And I think that is a much safer and more sensible choice for the average pet home than a cute fluffy question mark of a puppy would be, especially when we're talking about a breed like the GSD that has so many health and behavioral problems in its lines.
On the other hand, if you are absolutely dead set on having a purebred GSD for whatever reason, and you can't find one in rescue, then buy one from a responsible, ethical, knowledgeable breeder. Support a program that is striving to produce the best possible dog in all respects. If you have to save up for it, then save up.
But please do not support ignorance and greed by buying from someone who is not even trying
to produce good, sound, healthy dogs.