What Is A Whelping Box | Where To Find Whelping Boxes (2023)

What Is A Whelping Box | Where To Find Whelping Boxes (1)

If you have a pregnant canine companion in your life, you may have heard of a whelping box. A dog will seek out a safe place for labor, making a whelping box the perfect spot for the process. So what is a whelping box and what does it include?

In this article we will dive into the details of what a whelping box is, and help you understand how to create the perfect safe zone for your pregnant pup.

Technically, a whelping box or whelping bed is a secure zone for your dog to give birth. When a dog is preparing to deliver their puppies, they will feel an overwhelming urge to find a safe and comfortable den to give birth. An ideal spot for birthing will involve an enclosed area that offers protection for both mom and puppies, and is cozy enough to make the process comfortable. A standard whelping box is the perfect spot for your pregnant dog, as it’s both comfortable and safe.

It is a special box that is designed to stay clean, disinfected and is easy to setup and take down. For those who expect to have more than one litter of puppies, investing in a whelping box might make sense. They are great for using more than just one time.

Do You Need A Whelping Box For Your Pregnant Dog?

If you have an expecting canine mother in your life, you may begin to wonder if she really needs a whelping box. If you are on the fence when it comes to purchasing or building a whelping bed for your dog, here are a few points to help you understand the benefits of a secure whelping area.

Benefits of using a whelping box include:

(Video) Puppy Whelping Checklist

  • Your dog will have a safe zone to bring them comfort throughout the birthing process.
  • Your dog will be able to go to their whelping box in the time leading up to labor, and realize it as the desired area to have her puppies.
  • A secure area to give birth will promote a healthy birthing process and help to eliminate stress.
  • A whelping box can keep the puppies safe in the weeks following birth, as they will be unable to crawl away from mom.
  • Having an enclosed area means that you can modify the area for comfort, warmth, and any other necessities.
  • A whelping box can allow you to offer a temperature controlled area for when mom ventures away from her puppies, as puppies can’t often regulate their temperature without their mother’s help.

What Size of Box Do I Need?

When it’s time to determine what size your dog’s whelping box should be, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Since each whelping box should have the mother’s size in mind, it’s best to tailor the size of the whelping box to your individual pup.

Let’s dive into some of the best ways to size your dog’s whelping box.

The first way to determine the size of your dog’s ideal whelping box is to measure them as if you were looking for a crate. Your dog’s whelping box should be large enough to allow them to lay down comfortably, as well as extra wiggle room to allow them to stand up and switch positions easily. Though your pup will spend the majority of their time laying down with her puppies, she should be able to move freely if she would like. For example, if your dog requires a 40 inch crate, it’s best to offer a whelping box with 48-50 inches on each side.

Another characteristic of a whelping box is that the edges should allow for mom to exit when she chooses, but have a high enough border that keeps the puppies in at all times. Once a puppy reaches a few weeks of age, they will begin to venture away from mom and explore their area. Because of this, it’s so important to make sure that your whelping box of choice has a border that surrounds the entire box. As long as the mom can easily step in and out without too much effort, it is suitable.

Many boxes will come with 12-24 inch tall walls with a designated ‘door’, which is just slightly shorter than the rest of the walls.

Best Places To Find A Whelping Box

Now that you understand the importance of a whelping box for pregnant and nursing dogs, it’s time to discuss the best places to find a reliable nesting box for your pup. Most whelping boxes will range from $250-$800, often varying based on your dog’s needs. The bigger the box, the more it will cost. Also keep in mind that some boxes are made so they are easy to clean, easy to disinfect, come apart easily, allow for additional attachments like heat lamps or special floors.

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Whelping Box & Dog Birthing Pen

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Great starter whelping box for those with smaller dogs or expecting smaller litter sizes. This whelping box is 24x24x12 inches. You can choose a different size up to Extra Large (54x54x24 inches).

Benefits of a Whelping Box

  • Easy to clean & sanitize
  • Easy to assemble, no tools required
  • Keeps new born puppies safe & secure
  • Can be reused and easy to store

Alternative Whelping Box Ideas

Since whelping boxes can be a bit expensive, many dog owners choose to make their own boxes or use alternative options. Homemade whelping boxes for dogs and alternatives can be just as useful for your furry friend, and save you some money in the process. Some of the best alternatives to store bought whelping boxes for dogs include:

  • Homemade whelping boxes created with wood or plastic panels. Many people get inspiration from breeding blogs. As long as the walls are high enough to contain the puppies, this can be a wonderful whelping area.
  • Cardboard boxes. This can be a great temporary option as long as the cardboard box is secure and tall enough to contain the puppies. You will just need to cut the box to allow an easy entrance for the mother, and keep a close eye on the strength of the box as the days pass. The problem with this option is that liquids from labor can make the cardboard weak as well as it is not as sanitary or clean as a store bought box.
  • A plastic child’s swimming pool is another popular alternative to a whelping box. The sturdy walls help to contain the puppies, and are easy for the mother to get in and out of. Just be sure to line the pool with warm bedding, as the plastic can pull heat from the puppies. This is not as safe of an option as our top choice above.
  • Dog kennels can also be a great whelping box alternative for small dogs. Plastic kennels often allow you to separate the top and bottom, leaving the bottom of the kennel as the whelping area.

Does Your Dog Need A Whelping Box?

A box is not required, but can help with many parts of the delivery process. If you do not provide a box your dog will find an area in your home to give birth. That area might not be as clean or sanitary as a whelping box. When your new puppies start to venture away from mom, you will need to keep an eye on them since nothing is keeping them together. Over time you might wish you had a box that will stay clean, keep your new puppies safe and is easy to take down and store. For those who may have one or more litters of puppies, investing in a good whelping box might make sense.

What Is A Whelping Box | Where To Find Whelping Boxes (3)

Amber LaRock

My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 12 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! More About Us

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What is a whelping box? ›

A whelping box, also known as a nesting box, is where puppies will spend the first 20 days of their life. Designing to protect puppies during birth (whelping), it keeps them safely contained, protects them from the cold, and ensures they aren't crushed by their mother.

What can be used as a whelping box? ›

Plywood or particle board can be used, however, to help keep cleaning easy, it should be painted with a latex, glossy paint so urine or fecal material isn't absorbed by the wood. Ideally all whelping boxes should have a puppy protective ledge around the inside to prevent crushing of the puppies by the mother.

Where is the whelping box supposed to be located? ›

Put the whelping box in a room that is isolated from other dogs. Many breeders set it up in their own bedrooms for the first three weeks. A door and/or gate should be used to keep other dogs away. An ex-pen around the whelping box provides an extra layer of safety.

What is a whelping box for pregnant 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.

How long do dogs stay in whelping box? ›

They should be trying to climb out of their nest or whelping box by three weeks. By four weeks, the puppies should be able to walk, run, and play.

Can a crate be used as a whelping box? ›

Many owners ask if they can use a dog crate as a whelping box - the answer is yes, if your dog is already crate trained. This way, they may find security in using this as their whelping box too. Make sure your box or crate is in a quiet space, that's warm and large enough for movement and lots of little puppies!

Can the whelping box be in the living room? ›

If your pet insists on being near you with her puppies, allow her. A whelping or nesting box in a quiet corner of the living room is preferable to an anxious mother constantly leaving her puppies. Some dogs like the owner to be with them the whole time they are in labor.

Should I remove puppies from whelping box? ›

By the time the puppies are 2-3 weeks old, the mother should have an area near the whelping box, but separate from the puppies to allow her time to rest. At about this time, the puppies will start trying to leave the box to explore. They should be well supervised and have safe toys available.

When should you introduce a whelping box? ›

Nurturing a pregnant dog's nesting instinct entails introducing her to the whelping box at least five days before her delivery date. This allows time for her to become adjusted and comfortable before the puppies are born.

Should you touch puppies after they are born? ›

Start handling the puppies.

By about three weeks of age, you can—and should! —begin gently handling the puppies1 for short periods for reasons other than basic health care. Once the puppies have their eyes open, you can try carefully picking them up, holding them for a bit, and placing them back in the box.

What happens if my dog has dead puppies inside her? ›

Puppies may be passed stillborn, either before their due date or on their due date. In some cases, a deceased fetus may become mummified within the uterus. Mummification occurs when the body creates a protective membrane around the fetus, allowing it to remain encased and walled off within the uterus.

Does a whelping box need a floor? ›

The bottom of the box may or may not have a floor and may be lined with specially designed "whelping pads," or layers of newspaper (or fabric) to provide insulation from cold floors and to absorb fluids. Fabric covers or partial covers are often used on top to provide a "den-like" environment for the mother.

How warm does a whelping box need to be? ›

The whelping box should have a consistent temperature around 85 degrees, as puppies are not able to generate their own body heat until they are 2 ½ weeks of age. “Excessively high temperatures and high humidity can cause respiratory difficulties and dehydration in puppies.

Do you need to heat a whelping box? ›

The whelping box must also be warm to prevent illness. Depending on the breed, the temperature of the whelping box will need to remain at a consistent temperature around 80 degrees, making it important to have a pad that is adjustable.

Can I use a kiddie pool as a whelping box? ›

Gather your supplies

Choose a plastic kiddie pool that is round rather than scalloped like a sea shell. A pool that is 3′ in diameter will work well for a mini sized dog. The 3′ pool will also suffice for a dog who is on the smaller end of the medium size range as well.

Why is it called whelping? ›

According to a fairly recent hypothesis, a word like Wölbung “curvature; arch” might refer to “womb,” with whelp being its fruit. Gothic hwilf-tr-jos “coffin,” Sanskrit garbhah “womb,” and Greek kٖólpos “breast” have been cited in this connection.

When can mom dog sleep away from puppies? ›

Puppies should not leave their mom and littermates before eight weeks of age. The mother dog has so much to teach the new puppy; lessons that will affect him all his life, and his littermates teach important lessons as well. If the mother dog has passed away, the littermates need to remain together.

How often do you change the bedding in a whelping box? ›

At 2.5 weeks, open the whelping box and add an area two times the size and cover with newspaper…. Change the bedding in the box several times per day, but do not change the paper often (keep it smelling like a toilet and keep the bed smelling like a fresh bed…)

Why is my dog trying to bury her puppies? ›

Mother canines can reject their puppies for a variety of reasons and then try and bury them away from the other puppies in their litter. Even something as subtle as the puppy being too hot or cold can cause the mother to reject the pup. It could be an indication something is wrong with the puppy or the mother herself.

Should whelping box be dark? ›

Whelping Area:

Place the box in a dark, quiet area of the house. This can be a basement, a closet, or a spare bedroom with the shades drawn. Allow the mother to freely come and go from her whelping area. Keep other dogs away from her whelping area so that she knows it is her place to deliver.

How do I stop my mother dog from crushing puppies? ›

Not all have the instinct to nose the puppies to the center of the whelping box for safety. Smothering, crushing, and laying down on the puppies can be prevented by installing railings that help prevent the dog from accidentally lying on a puppy that may have slipped behind her.

Where is the best place for a dog to have puppies? ›

It's a quiet, dark, and comfortable spot—preferably one that the dog is comfortable with because they don't want to have puppies in the middle of your living room floor.

How long after puppies are born can you give them away? ›

The exact time that is best for a puppy to go to its new home can vary by situation, but most breeders and veterinarians agree that 8 weeks of age is a good minimum. Some states have laws in place preventing puppies from being sold any earlier.

How do you clean up after a litter of puppies? ›

Use a dry rag or paper towels to soak up urine and use either a poo bag or paper towels to pick up poop. You can also use toilet paper to soak up urine or pick up poop, the advantage being that you can then flush those down the toilet*.

What are bad signs after a dog gives birth? ›

A few days after your dog has given birth

She has a fever, is unwell with a loss of appetite, is listless or lacks interest in the puppies. Any of these could indicate an infection within her uterus. Her mammary glands are red, firm and painful, or discharge from her nipples is smelly, brown or bloody.

What is the best thing to put in the bottom of a whelping box? ›

Line the bottom with vinyl flooring.

If you have built your own whelping box, you may have used wood or cardboard for the bottom. These materials are not easy to keep clean. As such, it is a good idea to line the bottom of your box with vinyl flooring.

What temperature is too cold for newborn puppies? ›

Newborn puppies can't generate their own body heat until they develop the shiver reflex at around two and half weeks. At birth his body (rectal) temperature should fall between 95° and 99°F. If it drops below 94°F, your puppy could be facing life-threatening hypothermia.

Is the first puppy of the litter the best? ›

The first born tends to be a more focused or a one person type of pet. First-borns are usually the choices of professional dog trainers. Runts, on the other hand, may need more nurturing, but they are fun, frisky pets.

What to do after dog has puppies? ›

How To Care For Your Dog After She Gives Birth To Puppies
  1. First Thing's First: The Checkup. ...
  2. Keep Mom & Pups Away From Other Dogs. ...
  3. DON'T Bathe Her Immediately. ...
  4. Let Her Self-Indulge. ...
  5. Keep Bathroom Breaks Short. ...
  6. Maintain Grooming for “Sanitary Cut” ...
  7. Monitor Discharge.
May 19, 2022

Should you leave newborn puppies with mom? ›

The ideal minimum time that the puppy should be able to separate from its mother is 8 weeks. Still, many ethologists also claim that the puppy should be with its mother until 12 weeks of age. We must point out that the longer a puppy is with its mother, the better its development.

Do I have to sleep with newborn puppies? ›

You should move your bed into the same room as the whelping box and sleep beside it during this time. Do newborn puppies need supervision? Newborn puppies need constant supervision. Not only can they not hear, see, or walk, but they also can't defend themselves if anything happens to them.

Can you hold newborn too much? ›

You can't spoil a baby. Contrary to popular myth, it's impossible for parents to hold or respond to a baby too much, child development experts say. Infants need constant attention to give them the foundation to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually.

Should I leave the dead puppy from mother? ›

If the mother is still trying to care for any dead pups after a few days, be sure to remove them even if it causes the mother distress. Parasites from the decaying carcasses can be passed on to the mother and the remaining pups. If the mother or surviving pups seem ill in any way, remove the dead puppies immediately.

Can a dog have puppies 12 hours apart? ›

Contractions in the first stage can last up to 12 hours. Puppies are usually born 30-60 minutes apart, but the mother dog may take a break of 2 hours between puppies.

What causes stillborn puppies? ›

The most common cause of viral abortion and neonatal death in dogs is herpesviral infection. 8, 9, 10, 11 Puppies can be infected in utero or at the time of parturition and death can occur in utero or up to 3 weeks following birth.

What dog breed has the most puppies in a litter? ›

Big dogs, like Danes, tend to have larger litters proportionate to their larger size. A Neapolitan mastiff named Tia currently holds the Guinness World Record for largest litter, with 24 pups born in 2004. A raccoon was euthanized and tested for rabies after it was brought to a Maine pet store ...

How many days is a dog pregnant? ›

– A dog pregnancy can vary between 56 – 70 days. Typically, puppies should arrive about 63 days (just over 2 months) after conception. Are there any tell-tale dog pregnancy symptoms? – Like humans, some dogs can suffer from 'morning sickness' and will vomit in the early stages of pregnancy.

Why do they call it whelping? ›

According to a fairly recent hypothesis, a word like Wölbung “curvature; arch” might refer to “womb,” with whelp being its fruit. Gothic hwilf-tr-jos “coffin,” Sanskrit garbhah “womb,” and Greek kٖólpos “breast” have been cited in this connection.

Why won't my mother dog stay in the whelping box? ›

If the area where the whelping box is located is noisy or busy, the dam might become stressed. This may cause her to stop nursing or to ignore the puppies. To help encourage a calm environment, make sure that the whelping box is in a quiet part of your home. There should not be much traffic through this room.

What is another name for whelping box? ›

A whelping box/den, also known as a nesting box, whelping den or whelping pen, is designed to protect puppies during birth (whelping) and early life by keeping them safely contained, protected from cold, and safe from the danger of crushing or smothering by the mother.

How do I prepare my dog for whelping? ›

Make sure you have plenty of clean newspapers and sheets or towels. Select where you would like her to have her puppies and put a suitable whelping box in that location. The whelping box should be large enough for her to move around freely, with low sides so that she can see out and easily move in and out.

How do you prepare a whelping box? ›

Appropriate heat sources include heat lamps, electric or water-filled heating pads, and microwavable heating pads. The best bedding materials for a whelping box are soft, warm, have good traction, and are easily cleaned and disinfected. They should be insect-free, moisture resistant, and not easily ingested by puppies.

Do puppies need to nurse right after birth? ›

After birth, puppies should go right to mom and start nursing. During the first three hours following birth, puppies should nurse several times. If a puppy is having trouble latching, rub its muzzle sideways over the nipple, not up and down.

What to do after puppies are born? ›

The pups should be kept warm, free from drafts, away from other dogs, and the neighbors and their children. Healthy well-nourished pups should be quiet, eat and sleep (with some jerking during REM) 90% of the time, gain weight daily after the first 2 days, and show increasing strength and body tone.

Do newborn puppies poop? ›

Yes! They poop several times a day, so prepare yourself to clean up once, twice, and many times a day. The digestive system of newborn pups is in development. Therefore, they need a little help to pee and defecate.

Should mom be with puppies all the time? ›

Newborn pups need to be with their mother and the maternal instinct usually means a mother dog will want to stay with her litter most of the time. If your dog is lying or sitting away from the litter for long periods, it's likely she may have rejected them.

Should puppies be with the mother all the time? ›

Puppies should remain with their mother and littermates until about age eight to 12 weeks. However, it is most crucial to have a mother during the first few weeks of life. A puppy that has been separated from its mother will need human intervention. Raising a newborn puppy takes a lot of time and intensive care.

Why do mother dogs reject the runt? ›

Since Mom has other puppies to care for, she will reject the runt who has little chance of survival so she can concentrate on taking care of the rest. When this happens, only human intervention—including bottle-feeding and a visit to the vet—can save the puppy.


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