What Is A Dog Whelping Box and Does It matter If You Don’t use one?

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What Is A Dog Whelping Box?

A dog whelping box or pen is also known as a nesting pen, is to protect puppies during birth and the first couple of weeks until their motor skills, sight and hearing are developed.

They take the place of a secure den. The whelping box needs to be big enough for the mother to move around without smothering or hurting the puppies but small enough that the puppies are within her reach at all times.

For a bigger breed something about the size of a 48×40 pallet with a solid floor that has or should have low walls or railing all the way around high enough that the puppies can’t crawl or fall out of the dog whelping box.

What Can Be Used As A Dog Whelping Box?


The first option is to purchase a dog whelping box from your favorite pet store or online. They have a wide variety of sizes, designs, and material options like wood, metal, or plastic.

If you purchase a dog whelping box you can pay anywhere from $25.00 to hundreds of dollars depending on size and preference.

Although we would all love to be able to purchase every single thing our dogs and puppies could want or need reality is we can’t always afford to buy all the things we want.

The good news is that there are other cheaper DIY options that you can use or make as a dog whelping box or pen.

Pallet or Skid:

We have a husky so a 48×40 pallet or skid for a dog whelping box is my favorite option. My favorite part about using a pallet is that it is a couple of inches off the cold floor or ground.

Some pallets come with a solid bottom but if you are unable to find one with the bottom a piece of plywood cut to size works great. With the leftover plywood, you will be able to make the four walls to keep puppies in and safe.

How tall you want the walls depends on the size of the puppies you will have. They should be at least tall enough that the puppies are unable to crawl over the wall and out of the dog whelping box.

Another bonus to using a pallet or skid is that if you ask most any store they will let you take one for free, if they do charge you for the pallet it will likely be less than $5.00.

Heated dog house:

At aboutalldogs.com we understand because we know what it’s like to be low on funds, that doesn’t mean that we cant provide all the things our families need.

If you have a dog then chances are you have a dog house and if need be you can easily transfer that into a dog whelping box.

All you need for the transformation is either a 2×4 or 2×8 depending on your needs placed securely blocking the entrance be sure your female can get in and out comfortably. Plywood cut to size will also work

The first 2 weeks the puppies can’t regulate their body temperature on their own so if your dog house isn’t heated make sure you have a heat lamp up high enough the mother doesn’t get burned standing up.

Use a thermometer to assure the temperature is at 85-90*F a thick blanket in front of the door to stop the cold air from blowing in is helpful too.

Newborn puppies should be inside not outside if possible but if inside is not an option with the right accommodations it can be just as safe for them to be outside.


If you crate train your female you will likely have a crate. Be sure that there is room enough for mom and puppies to be safe.

If you do use a crate and the top comes off you should remove the top so that you can easily access puppies in case of birthing complications.

Again just as any other area inside or outside make sure the temperature in the dog whelping box is at the correct temperature for puppies to stay warm enough between 85 and 90*F.

Plastic Tote:

If your female is a smaller dog a regular storage tote or container will work great as a dog whelping box. Again just make sure it has plenty of room for mom and puppies.

You could also use a wicker basket if big enough.

Now that you have a good idea of what is needed for an effective dog whelping box if none of the above-mentioned ideas will work for you keeping the concept of the whelping box in mind you will likely be able to create one out of materials you have around the house.

What Goes In A Dog Whelping Box?

If you are new the idea of using a dog whelping box you may be wondering what goes inside the whelping box besides the mother and puppies.  The bedding for the puppies of course, so you should use something that absorbs liquid well.

We line the bottom with potty pads and over the potty pads, I like to use an old Uhaul moving blanket they are great at holding in the warmth. Unlike blankets that slide and bunch up easily when puppies crawl these do not they are soft enough for everyone to be comfortable and firm enough to stay flat making it easy for puppies to crawl on.

Some breeders like to use shredded papers for the bottom because it absorbs very well and cleans up easy the only drawback is the ink rubbing off on the puppies.

Wood shavings are another option because it absorbs well and helps to cover the odor. This option also saves on having to wash the bedding instead you just throw away the old, wipe down the box and reline the dog whelping box with the new.

If you use a cloth material don’t forget that you will need to wash it regularly. Old blankets, sheets, or towels will also work but they bunch up easily making it hard for puppies to move around and can also trap and injure puppies in rare incidents.

Do You Have To Use A Dog Whelping Box?

You don’t have to use a dog whelping box but I promise you that if you try using a dog whelping box you will never want to be without one again.

A dog whelping box cuts the work involved with caring for a litter of puppies in half and makes the experience way less stressful because of a couple of reasons that come to mind, the puppies cant get to far from the warmth of the mom and littermates and it makes the cleanup process so much easier and keeps the mess contained.


If you have never used a dog whelping box seriously consider using one for your dog and her litter please do, I promise you that you will love it.

A dog whelping box has so many benefits to the mother, the litter, and even you.

If this is your first litter I wish you luck and remember to enjoy the experience when you know what to expect it is such a fun time. Watching the newborns all grow and develop all the little personalities is kind of amazing.

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