What Is A Whelping Box

What is a Whelping Box

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:

  • 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.

Whelping Box & Dog Birthing Pen

Our Top Pick
Whelping Box & Dog Birthing Pen
9.8/10 Our Score

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.

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