How to Build a Cheap Whelping Box

by Cindy Quarters
    A whelping box helps the puppies stay safe.

    A whelping box helps the puppies stay safe.

    Jupiterimages/ Images

    When your dog is getting ready to deliver a litter of little ones, a whelping box can be a big help in keeping the pups all in one place during and after the birth. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune; it’s not hard to make even a large whelping box for the cost of a sheet of plywood and a few other inexpensive materials.

    Step 1

    Cut a single sheet of 3/4-inch plywood in half. Save a 4-foot square to use as the bottom of the box and cut the other section into three strips 4 feet long and 16 inches wide. (Many lumber yards and home centers will make these cuts for you for little or no charge when you buy the wood.)

    Step 2

    Cover the inside of the bottom and both sides of the other pieces with self-adhesive contact paper. Use a staple gun to secure any loose places. Alternatively, paint the pieces with nontoxic latex paint and allow it to dry thoroughly.

    Step 3

    Place one 16-inch piece of plywood on its edge across one side of the bottom section to form a wall. Use 1.5-inch wood screws to hold it firmly in place. Set the other two 16-inch sections at right angles to the first piece and screw them all to the bottom section and to each other.

    Step 4

    Put a board measuring 1 inch by 4 feet by 1 foot across the remaining opening to make a doorway the mother can step over. Use 1.5-inch screws to attach it to the bottom and the sides of the box.

    Items You Will Need

    • One 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of 3/4-inch plywood
    • Saw (optional)
    • Contact paper (self-adhesive) or nontoxic latex paint with a brush
    • Staple gun (optional)
    • 1.5-inch wood screws
    • Screwdriver
    • One 4-foot-by-12-inch board, 1 inch thick


    • A whelping box 4 feet square is suitable for a dog weighing anywhere from about 60 to 90 pounds. If your dog is much bigger or smaller, adjust the size accordingly. A large dog such as a Newfoundland or a Great Dane might need a box that’s 5 feet square, while a small breed such as a Shetland sheepdog is fine with a box about 30 inches square.
    • Some dog owners prefer to make the whelping box without a floor to make it softer for the pups and easier to clean. It’s also much lighter when it needs to be moved.
    • Some whelping box designs incorporate a guard rail, often called a pig rail, to prevent the mother from squashing the puppies against the sides of the box. Adding the rail is a matter of personal choice; it may prevent some accidents but it also gets a lot of food and feces on it as the puppies grow, and has to be cleaned daily to prevent health problems. To add one, securely attach a PVC pipe or two-by-four about one-third to one-half of the way up the sides all the way around the inside of the box.
    • Paint or contact paper will make cleaning the box easier because anything that gets on it wipes off instead of being absorbed into the wood.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images

    About the Author

    Cindy Quarters has been writing professionally since 1984. She writes travel, pet, gardening and technical articles, with work published in Radiance Magazine and the AKC Gazette, as well as online. Quarters earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington State University and a master's degree in management information systems from West Coast University.

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