How to Make a Whelping Box for Large Breed Dogs

Large-breed puppies, such as a Mastiff, need a comfortable whelping box for delivering young.
Large-breed puppies, such as a Mastiff, need a comfortable whelping box for delivering young. (Image: baby english mastiff image by Joy Fera from

A whelping box provides a large-breed dog with a safe and comfortable place to rear her litter. Begin building the whelping box two to three weeks before the expected delivery date and expect the project to take one full day or less to complete. When shopping for plywood, chose the highest grade available, preferably with pre-sanded sides. Your home improvement score can make the wood cuts for you for free or a minimal charge, saving you one step at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Four 3/4-inch-thick sheets of plywood, 4 feet by 24 inches
  • Saw
  • Contact paper
  • Glue or staple gun
  • 1 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • One 4-foot, 1-inch by 4-foot, 1-inch square vinyl flooring
  • Silicone sealant
  • Bedding

Cut the lowered opening for the front panel. To keep the puppies in the box while allowing the mother easy in-and-out access, cut a rectangle from one of the 4-foot boards 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Center the cut as best you can, though a perfectly centered opening is not essential to the function of the box.

Cover the insides of the 4-foot panels with contact paper. Use glue to help the paper adhere. Wrap the paper around the tops and bottoms of the panel and secure the overhang on the outside of the panels with additional glue. You can also use a staple gun along the 3/4-inch width of the top of the panels. The contact paper creates a smooth interior wall and will make it easier to clean the box.

Attach the panels together at the corners with the wood screws. Affix three evenly spaced screws at each corner. The screws should be drilled in from the outside of the panel inward. Take care that the screws go in straight with no tips protruding from either side of the panels.

Flip the box over. The box is heavy and large, so enlist a second person to help you with this task. Stretch the vinyl flooring around the panels and attach it to the bottom thickness of the panels with the screws. Use a screw every 4 inches.

Flip the box right-side up. Run a tube of silicone sealant around the interior of the box where the panels meet the vinyl flooring. This step helps prevent leaks.

Place your whelping box indoors in your desired location. Add towels, sheepskins, blankets, shredded paper or other bedding material in the box. The mother will arrange the bedding to suit her preferences.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some breeders choose to use a puppy rail to protect the mother from accidentally squishing the puppies while others don't find one necessary. You can add a 2-inch by 4-inch railing 5 inches from the floor of the box. Attach the railing with wood screws from the outside in.

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