Breeding, Facility Management

Building a Dog Kennel: How to Create the Ideal Kennel Environment

Building a dog kennel takes planning. From the temperature and humidity to lighting, waste removal and water quality, dog kennel plans that are well thought out will help keep dogs healthier and happier.

Temperature Inside a Kennel

The temperature should be carefully controlled inside the kennel. Using a room thermometer or weather station is very important. An additional thermometer should be used on the surface of each whelping bed and nursery.

So what temperature should a dog kennel be? Temperatures between 65°F and 70°F are adequate for adult and young dogs. In the whelping areas and nursery, the room temperature can be between 70°F and 75°F. However, the surface temperature where the pups are should be at 90°F the first week, dropping the temperature 5°F a week until they are at 70°F. The use of a whelping nest to heat the pups from underneath and keep mom from overheating is the best solution. There are electric, propane and circulating hot water options available.

For premature, at-risk, sick, or failure-to-thrive pups, additional heat with oxygen can be life-saving. PuppyWarmer® has an incubator and oxygen concentrator designed for these pups. The investment will pay for itself many times over in pups saved.

Humidity Inside a Kennel

The use of a weather station, available at local hardware stores, is very important to managing humidity in the kennel. The ideal humidity for newborn pups is 55 percent humidity +/- 10 percent. For adult and young dogs, 40 to 60 percent humidity is ideal.

Dog Kennel Waste Management

Both urine, which emits the odor of ammonia, and stools or fecal material can produce odors and fumes. Not only is a kennel that smells good appealing for you and your team to work in, it is more pleasant for the dogs and leaves visitors with a good impression. A kennel that is well-designed to be easy to let dogs in and out and easy to clean will save you money, time and work in the long run. Good control of waste will also reduce exposure of the dogs to parasites.

Ventilation is critically important to maintain correct temperatures, humidity and control odors and irritants. Consulting with a builder or ventilation specialist is recommended if designing a new building or if you are having difficulties with odors, fumes, or infectious diseases.

Dog Kennel Lighting

Dogs’ heat cycles are day-length dependent. This is why most females cycle in the spring and fall. If you are struggling with females not cycling every six months, you may want to evaluate the amount of light your dogs are exposed to. Allowing them to spend more time outdoors or adjusting the lights in the kennel to allow 14 hours of simulated daylight a day may improve their cycles.

Water Quality

Water is the most important nutrient in your dogs’ diets. Annual testing of the water in your kennel, home, and well is recommended. Water samples should be taken from multiple sources for testing – hoses, hose bibs, and faucets in the home and kennel, and the well. Your local county or county extension agent can help you with testing. Ask for coliforms and nitrates testing.

It’s also important to remember that the social relationships between the dogs in the kennel can interfere with heat cycles, mating behaviors, and appropriate mothering behaviors. Observation, direct or with closed circuit cameras can help understand if you need to adjust how your dogs are housed, exercised or fed.

For more advice on how to create the ideal kennel environment, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.