How to Build a Cheap Whelping Box

A whelping box helps the puppies stay safe.
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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.


  • 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.

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