Whelping Box

Kelly Roper
Mom and pup in whelping box

If your dog is going to have puppies, you need to provide her with a whelping box so she has a safe place to deliver them.

Description of a Whelping Box

A whelping box, or nesting box as it is sometimes called, is essentially the place where your dog will deliver her puppies and raise them for approximately the first six weeks of their lives.

Every whelping box should have a bottom and four sides. The sides should be approximately 12 to 18 inches high, with a lower opening at the front that makes it easy for the bitch to get in and out of the box. Ideally, the box will have an inner rail that runs around all four walls and is set approximately four inches above the bottom of the box. This rail prevents the bitch from accidentally pinning a newborn puppy against a wall and smothering it.

Commercial Whelping Boxes

These boxes cost a considerable amount of money, but they are a good investment if you plan to be a professional breeder because they can be used over and over again.

  • Jonart - Made from PVC and heavy duty plastic, this nesting box is non-porous so fluids won't soak in and the box can easily be disinfected. It's available in four sizes from small through extra-large, and prices range from approximately $400.00 to $800.00. Additional vinyl liners are also available.
  • Dura-Whelp - Another top-of-the-line nesting box, the Dura-Whelp is made from strong, corrugated plastic with reinforced corner brackets to make the frame extra sturdy. The box has an inner rail and half-door in the front for easy access. It comes in four sizes, and prices range from $150.00 for a small box to $220.00 for an extra-large box. You can also purchase additional liners, pads and other accessories.

Make Your Own Nesting Box

Although not ideal, you can make your own whelping box if you can't afford to buy a professional model. Here are a few simple options to explore.

Quick and Easy Nesting Box Solutions

  • A cardboard box may be adequate for a small breed dog. The box must be large enough to accommodate the bitch when she lays on her side, and ideally large enough for the average size litter for her breed. If you choose to use cardboard, you'll need several backups to replace the original when it becomes soaked with fluid.
  • A Vari-Kennel can also make a decent whelping box unless you have a large breed dog. Simply unscrew the top and bottom, and remove the door. You can then use the bottom portion for your whelping box.
  • A plastic child's swimming pool can also be a good, inexpensive nesting box since it is waterproof and easily cleaned.

Keep in mind that none of these homemade alternatives include the inner rim to protect the pups from being laid on by their mother. You will also need to line them with plenty of newspapers and towels for the bitch to use as nesting material.

Printable Whelping Box Plans

If you happen to be a do-it-yourself type and you are interested in learning how to build a whelping box for your dog, use these detailed printable plans for a nesting box. The plans are printable and provide a comprehensive supply list and easy step-by-step instructions.

Additional Plans for Nesting Boxes

For additional whelping box ideas, see:

These models can be broken down for storage.


In addition to the nesting box, there are other accessories you can add in order to make mom and pups more comfortable as well as make cleanup easier.

  • Heat lamp - This lamp can raise the ambient temperature in the box, but care should be taken that it is not close enough to the pups to burn them. The light should also be offset so the animals have room to move out from beneath it if they become too warm.
  • Whelping pad - This is a fleece-covered vinyl heating pad designed to keep the pups warm until they can regulate their own body heat.
  • Heated whelping nest - This is similar to a heating pad, but it is recessed in the bottom of the box and is especially useful for newborns.
  • Liners - These provide water-proof protection that is especially important for wooden boxes. They also make cleanup easier.

Get Ready for Your Dog to Deliver

Now you have plenty of options for housing your dog and her litter. If you have further questions about nesting boxes and dog pregnancy in general, feel free to leave them in the comments box below.

Whelping Box