How to Build a Whelping Box for German Shepherds

Written by ann pedtke
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How to Build a Whelping Box for German Shepherds
German shepherd mothers need plenty of space to birth their puppies. (german shepherd dog image by Lisa Batty from

Whelping boxes serve as a safe and protected place for mother dogs to birth and care for their puppies. The box keeps the puppies comfortable and contained, while allowing the mother to come and go as needed. German shepherds require a large whelping box measuring at least 48 inches on each side. Such a box can be easily constructed using sheets of plywood from a home supply store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 full sheet of 1-inch thick plywood board (48 inches by 96 inches)
  • 4 sections of 2-by-1 wood strips (24 inches long)
  • 4 sections of 22-mm wooden dowel (48 inches long)
  • 1 1/2-inch wood screws
  • Circular saw
  • Electric drill
  • Towels, newspaper, or other padding
  • Heat lamp

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  1. 1

    Use a circular saw to cut a full-size sheet of plywood (48 inches by 96 inches) into four sections. One smaller section should measure 12 inches by 48 inches, while the three larger sections should each measure 24 inches by 48 inches.

  2. 2

    Lay out two of the larger sections of plywood (24-by-48), which will become the sides of the whelping box. Using 1 1/2-inch wood screws, attach a 2-by-1 wood strip to each 24-inch side. These strips will provide extra support when you connect the four sides of the box.

  3. 3

    Attach the taller back and side panels (24-by-48) to the shorter front panel (12-by-48), drilling 1 1/2-inch wood screws through the outside of the side panels into the bracing wood strips on the front and back panels. Use two or three screws on each side, and make sure that no sharp tips are protruding into the box. Your four sections of plywood should now form the frame of the whelping box. The lower wall of the box will allow the mother dog to step in and out.

  4. 4

    Install a "puppy rail" around the inside of the box to prevent the puppies from being crushed by their mother's weight. Use 1 1/2-inch wood screws to attach sections of wooden dowel on each side of the box, about 6 inches above the floor.

  5. 5

    Line the floor of the whelping box with materials that will provide cushioning for the puppies while being easy to remove and clean. A tarp covered by towels or layers of newspaper works well.

  6. 6

    Position in a warm, quiet area where the mother dog will not be disturbed. If needed, set up a heat lamp above the box to maintain a temperature between 21.1 and 29.4 degrees Celsius.

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