Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Whys of the Whelping Box - Informational Post

Whenever we do this document-a-litter thing on LabTails, I try to include some information about puppies or whelping or breeder-responsibility or the "whys" of some of the things you see here.

Today is one of those posts (I mark the informational posts in the title, so if you find them boring you can skip them).

This is our second whelping box.  We burned the first one after our "P" word experience -- didn't want to risk any lingering virus in the environment.  And while the first one (DH's design compiled from what he liked of various boxes he saw on-line) served us well, this second one seems to be serving us even better (again, DH's design, just redesigned from the first).

Nothing is accidental in planning a whelping box; virtually everything you see is there for a reason.  So here are the "whys" of our current whelping box, just FYI.  This is Kenya acclimating to the box a couple days before she's due:

1. The box itself is made of 2 standard sheets of malamine:  for ease in materials purchase, construction, and ease in cleaning up after the litter.

2. The bumpers (or guardrails), necessary to prevent pups from being squished between the dam and the wall, are made of PVC piping:  for ease in clean-up, to make things more comfortable for the dam (the old 2x4s couldn't have been very comfortable), and to prevent chewing on by the pups later on (they loved to chew on the old 2x4s).  The holes you see in the bumpers are for drill-bit access to the mounting bolts inside the pipe (which hold the piping to the wall).

3. The overall dimensions are partly planned to maximize what DH could get out of standard-sized materials (like 2 sheets of melamine) and to give sufficient room to dam and pups without creating too big a space that could result in cold zones where pups could get chilled.  This photo was taken while Kenya was still in active labor (notice pups in warming box under heat light to right):

 Kenya, even when whelping, kept an eye on her pups (the hook you see on the wall is what holds the hinged wall up and closed ... there's a hook-and-eye latch on both sides, the eyes mounted on the edges of the hinged wall, the hooks mounted on the fixed walls).

4. The wall height is to prevent the puppy climb-out factor later on (we had more than our share of escapees with the last box).

5. The hinged wall (instead of a cut out wall) becomes a ramp when lowered, which later will give the pups their first exposure to inclines. Mounting the hinge a couple of inches from the floor creates a lip when the wall is lowered, which contains the neonates in the box, but allows the dam to come and go as she pleases.

6. The swing-arm lamp clamped to side:  allow for easy removal when then pups no longer need external sources of warmth and allows for easy movement of the lamp (depending on where the dam lies down and for when we move the pups to the warming box to clean the whelping box).

I think that's about all I can think of (specific to the box itself) for now.  I'll post a separate list of whys (about the warming box and other supplies we use) separately.

Hope you find this interesting!  If not.. there are plenty of other pictures coming to keep you occupied for a bit, I'm sure. :)

'til next time,


scargosun said...

That WAS interesting! Way to go to your DH for making that box. Ingenious!

Anonymous said...

- we will be duplicating this box for our litter that is due in 2 weeks...much better than the wood whelping box we had been using...much more sanitary!

Teri Tith said...

We are getting ready to breed our black lab female and would like to build a welping box like this. Do you have any plans, or lists of what to buy that you have shared?

Five Bloomin' Beauties said...

Hi! Our chocolate lab is expecting puppies in a week and a half. I was wondering if you have plans for this whelping box that you would share? My email is: traciandlee@sbcglobal.net It was fun to read your blog. This is our first time having puppies and we are all very excited!