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How to Build a Whelping Box

by Damien Andrews

A whelping box is where the female parent of new puppies is kept to raise her puppies for the first few weeks. They are also used, by some, to contain the new mother as she gives birth to her litter.

There are a number of factors to consider when building a new whelping box. To ensure that your whelping box is safe, efficient and practical will require extensive work. You will also need a rather formidable list of tools and materials. Finally, you should possess a medium to high level of building skill sets.

Before proceeding with how to build your new whelping box, I’d like to say that there are several models available at reasonable costs. If you require a whelping box, and you find the cost, time and expertise required to build your own is too daunting, then search on-line for the box that’s right for you and your dog.

The necessary elements of a good whelping box are:

  • It should be completely washable on the inside.
  • It should not be coated with or made of any toxic products, including paints and other finishes.
  • It should be large enough to accommodate your breed of dog and her litter: 4’ x 4’ is generally acceptable, and will be used for the measurements of this article.
  • It should have walls that the puppies cannot climb over: 12” – 16”
  • It should not have any interior surfaces which the puppies can chew on and destroy or swallow.

*Other considerations for a whelping box are:

  • It should not rest directly on bare ground. Elevate and level it as necessary.
  • If necessary, a door for the mother should be installed.
  • It should not be placed in a drafty or damp location.
  • If storing the box when assembled is a consideration, hinges and steel straps should be used to assemble the parts so that it can be disassembled and stored.

* These items will not be covered in this article.

Making the floor

Use a ¾” sheet of treated plywood for the floor. Use C/D grade wood to save expense. Cut the sheet in half so that you have two 4’ x 4’ pieces, less the kerf. Place one of the pieces on your saw horses and cover it with a high quality, light-colored laminate. Contact adhesive will work best for attaching the laminate. Trim the laminate at the edges of the floor using the appropriate router bit.

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