DIY Whelping Box

Expecting puppies? A dog breed expert explains how to build a DIY whelping box, or your own safe space for your dog and her pups.

Chihuahua breeder Grace Sette from New York built this DIY whelping box so the puppies can have their own space during the first few weeks of life. © Grace Sette

A whelping box acts as a safe haven for your dog to deliver her litter and is where the pups will live the first few weeks of their new lives. Fortunately, you can build this essential item at home if you’re looking to fully customize it for your dog and living space — and save some money.

Dogster interviewed Grace Sette, AKC breeder of Sette’s Chihuahuas of Long Island, NY, to learn more about how to make your very own whelping box for puppies.

Materials for a DIY whelping box:

Use a large plastic box or container to make your whelping box. (Grace uses a dog house to make sure there’s a lot of space.) If you need it to be portable, she recommends adding PVC piping and wheels.

How to make a whelping box:

  1. Secure a water bowl on the side of your whelping box with screws.
  2. Place a hard foam board at the bottom of the box to ensure it’s level and comfortable.
  3. Attach plastic piping to the whelping box so it’s elevated.
  4. Attach steps so the dam can come and go to the floor where her pee pads and bed are located. (This entire area should be gated off.)
  5. Create a doorway by making a cut into the box. Grace adds pieces of wood to block the pups from leaving. The older and bigger they get, Grace adds 2-to-3 inch mini wood blocks. This should always be low enough for the dam to come and go.

Dogster tip: Cut a hole to fit an electrical wire, in case an additional heat source is needed.

Grace attached steps to her DIY whelping box, so the dam is free to come and go to the floor where her pee pads and bed are located. © Grace Sette

In terms of length, Grace makes her whelping boxes long enough so the dam can move to the other side to rest. When the pups are between 3-and-4 weeks old, she puts a pee pad on the side with the pups, so they have a space to relieve themselves. At this point, their mom spends time in a bed or out of the ‘penned’ area.

What to include:

  • Attached water bowl
  • Heating discs, like SnuggleSafe, or heated dog beds.
  • Sheepskin
  • Pads
  • A type of cloth that can be made stationary
  • Optional: pig rail to protect puppies if mom rolls over (Grace found this was necessary one with preemie pups and the mom was larger.)
  • Optional: electric heater or lamp

When the pups are 4 ½-to- 5 weeks old, Grace says they graduate to a regular pen in the main section of the house. Their world gets bigger as they get bigger!

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