Which Whelping Pen/ Box should you choose?

If you do decide to breed…

If you decide to breed from your dog, please, please find a dog breeder close to you locally, and contact them to discuss dog breeding, because, quite frankly, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

For those of us who love our dogs, see them as family and would hate to see them in any distress or pain, several factors need to be considered. Even if the birth goes smoothly and there are no challenges there, the next four weeks of your life will not be your own. 

If you have any dependents, children or even a normal job/employment there is no way these will not be affected by the fact you will be working 18-hour days to keep the pups alive and the mum well looked after. Costs for this endeavour have no ceiling as you will have to buy whatever is needed, as and when it is required. So if anyone ever offers you an inexpensive puppy, ask yourself, what corners did they cut to get that price to the buyer? (Google ‘Puppy Farms’ to be greatly distressed.)

However, if after a full analysis of the pros and cons, you do decide to go ahead, the choice of whelping pen will be one of the investments you make, and there are different designs to choose from.

But what is a puppy whelping pen?

A puppy whelping pen, also known as a whelping box, is a safe and comfortable enclosure used to house a mother dog and her puppies during the whelping, or birthing, process and the first few weeks of the puppies’ lives. The pen is designed to keep the puppies contained and protected, while also providing the mother dog with a comfortable and secure space to care for her newborns. The best whelping boxes are large enough for your dog give birth comfortably and without stress and lay down to nurse her puppies comfortably. But also provide them with extra space and ‘wiggle’ room so they can move around without difficulty or stepping on a puppy.

What puppy whelping pens made from?

Whelping pens are typically made from materials such as wood, plastic, or metal, and they may feature a raised floor, padded walls, and a heat source to keep the puppies warm. The pen should be large enough for the mother dog to move around comfortably, but small enough to prevent the puppies from wandering too far away from her.

Why is it important to take time to make a choice about your puppy whelping pen?

Whelping pens are essential for ensuring the safety and health of both the mother dog and her puppies. They provide a secure and controlled environment for the birth process and help to minimize the risk of injury or accidental harm to the puppies. Additionally, they can help to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and parasites among the litter. For these reasons, despite the sometimes large financial outlay, you should look at them as an important investment in the health and safety of your newborns puppies and their mother.

What are ‘pig rails’ in a puppy whelping pen?

Pig rails are raised barriers that are often used in puppy whelping pens to prevent the mother dog from accidentally crushing or smothering her newborn puppies. The rails are typically placed around the edges of the whelping box and are designed to provide a small gap between the wall of the pen and the puppies, allowing the puppies to rest against the wall without being at risk of being crushed by the mother.

The name “pig rails” comes from their original use in pig farming, where similar rails were used to protect piglets from being crushed by their mother in the farrowing crate.

The rails are typically made from materials such as PVC pipe, wood, or metal and are easy to install and remove as needed. They can be adjusted or removed as the puppies grow and become more mobile, and are an important safety feature that can help to prevent injuries or fatalities during the whelping process.

Two Whelping Pens we’ve tried:

Whelpo Whelping Boxes

https://www.whelpo.com/whelping-boxes

Positives

  1. They are made of plastic so can simply be wiped clean—making them a hygienic option.  
  2. Each component simply slots into another, meaning there are no nuts, bolts or screws to get lost between uses or become a choking hazard for your furry family members. 
  3. Pig rails come as standard, they just need to know where you would like them situated. 
  4. Heat pad holes were supplied on request.
  5. Whelpo boxes are perfect for households lacking storage, as once you have finished using your Whelpo Whelping Box, you can simply pack it back up and slot it into a small space until you are ready to use it again.

Things to be aware of

  1. Large dogs (Labradors) may sit on the rails and move or dislodge them
  2. The one we purchased had a  one piece floor which  connected to the walls by sliding into place.  At times it came out of the places it was inserted into which created a gap on the edges. Although I make every effort to bring whatever the whelping box lining up the sides, it would be terrible if a little paw got stuck.
  3. When folding it was a bit challenging to pack flat and store—maybe instructions about how to do this effectively could be provided one day?

Conclusion

This was a great company to buy a first whelping pen/box from. The customer service was second to none. A real family business; I felt supported throughout the purchase process. Boxes are made to order though so don’t leave it too late to buy one if you need it!

Cost:

Whelpo Whelping Box 120 x 120 by 60cm = £385 

+ £40 postage 

TOTAL = £425

Be aware with the leave from the EU, I was told this cost might increase in the next few weeks due to the materials becoming more expensive.

Puppy Love Whelping Pens

https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/puppylovewhelpingpens

These are a very similar construction to the Whelpo Boxes in terms of their construction.

This pen does use screws to secure the sides, but for the base which is made up of slats, we did use a few bits of gorilla tape to hold them in place while we put the box together. Then it’s recommended that you would use silicone to stick the base to the sides. In an independent review of the pen, it’s suggested that this is then backed up with Gaffa or Gorilla Tape, which was helpful to know beforehand! (We forgot to back up the silicone with Gorilla tape and it did come away, so we won’t forget next time.)

The pig rails in this one are slotted into the posts situated in the corners of the box, and they are holding well! It was annoying in the Whelpo ones when the rails popped out, and because puppies do like to get snuggled in close to mum (they have been all warm and snuggled inside her) this often means they are actually behind her. Therefore, rails are essential.

Positives

  1. Light, and wipe clean! The construction of the box is plastic, so the panels aren’t heavy as such but like Whelpo you need to be careful with these as they can break and one did arrive broken. Fortunately, Puppy Love was super helpful and the new piece arrived two days later. 
  2. Components are attached by sliding bits into bits, and then securing them with screws. This means that the walls are very secure. It’s just a bit tedious about the floor. However, maybe they could add a recommendation of the ‘belt and braces’silicone and Gorilla tape to their current listing.
  3. We liked the corner posts for making the form more solid. 
  4. These posts also supported/housed the pig rails which kept them firmly in place. Impressed by this feature as it really works.
  5. Pen will pack flat for storage—I’ve learned from the Whelp pen and have kept the cardboard box!

Things to consider

  1. Gorilla Tape is a good reinforcer for the floor and sides. 
  2. Holes for heat pad cables might have been a useful additional feature.
  3. Although the columns/corner posts were great for providing stability to the structure most whelping materials for the floor are square – are you going to spend the time cutting the squares out neatly I wonder? This would mean shaping the whelping material to fit around the posts.
  4. We had a slow start to building this pen. Thank goodness for the video instructions with that jolly dapper chap in the suit—very helpful. We would love to see more instructional videos in the world. They don’t need to be fancy, just short and to the point.
  5. I only found this company through a search on the Facebook marketplace which then took me to eBay. They do have a real website but I found them through luck.

Cost:

Puppy Love Whelping Box/pen Black And White Size Large 120cmx120cmx60cm

£330.00

+ Postage

TOTAL = £359.99

The one we didn’t get to try….

CHICUBES

https://www.chicubes.co.uk/

4 x 4ft Resin Coated Whelping Box

Why we liked the look of it

SOLID – 

4 x 4ft x 20″ tall

  1. Adjustable rails
  2. Marine plywood with resin coating
  3. Easy to clean and maintain
  4. Anti-chew aluminium edging
  5. Slide upfront access panels.

We only found this whelping pen, after we had brought the Puppy Love, one. Therefore, we haven’t had a chance to try it but will look to do so in the future.

Disposable Whelping Boxes/Pens

At a push, you could use one of these. However, liquid (puppy pee, animal fluids during the birth), defecation, upset tummies, chewing and much more are all things you can’t be sure won’t happen. If they do, you might be in a very tricky situation indeed!

Final thoughts

Whelping pens need to be able to stand up to the forces exerted on them by the bitch, at the same time, keeping the puppies safe. Unless you are breeding regularly, the whelping pen will be going into storage between litters, so the ability to fold it away will be helpful. Lighter pens may be more portable. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that portability and lightness may not be in your favour if your bitch leans against the walls!

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