What is a Whelping Box for Dogs?

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Pregnant Yellow Labrador Retriever lying in wooden whelping box
When creating a whelping box for dogs, you’ll need to measure for space, add comfortable bedding and set up a pet cam so you can discretely observe that everyone is OK. ©Dorling Kindersley Ltd/ Alamy Stock Photo

What is a Whelping Box for Dogs?

A whelping box is your dog’s maternity ward to give birth to her puppies, and, thereafter, a nursery to nurse her newborn pups. It needs to be a comfortable, safe space in a great location in your home.






When a pregnant dog is about to give birth, it is instinctive for her to seek out a safe “nest” for herself. A whelping box, whether bought or constructed at home, provides this secure haven for her and her puppies. She must be able to enter and exit on her own and feel comfortable leaving her puppies there alone.

Whelping box criteria

When buying a whelping box or making one at home, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • The correct sized whelping box fits the size of the dog when she is lying down on her side sprawled out to feed her young, plus 1 foot, vertically. Measure your dog from her nose to her rear and add 12 inches. This will be your width. For length, fit your dog from back to toes, plus additional space for the litter. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine how many puppies she is carrying so you can plan the space accordingly. It shouldn’t be too small, so the mother doesn’t accidently lie on the puppies or, or too big that the helpless puppies can’t find the mother.
  • A waterproof sheet is ideal for the bottom lining, topped with a combination of towels, sheets and blankets that are easily laundered to offer comfort and maintain cleanliness. Also add a washable crate pad or mattress such as the Forgiveness range manufacturered by Snoozer.
  • Set up a pet cam so that you can observe your doggie mom and her pups 24/7.

DIY whelping box for dogs

If you are handy, look online for DIY instructions. A kiddie’s plastic swimming pool or a puppy playpen are other DIY options that can be kitted out. Plastic, easy to clean commercial options are widely available online in all price brackets and come with sides ranging between 12 to 24 inches and a designated door.

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