Several years ago, when Holden resident Jenny Dwyer’s Australian Shepherd Bandit continually licked off sunscreen applied to his light-colored nose, she wanted a product that would provide sun protection while being safe if ingested. She was already making her dogs’ food, so she used her Maine ingenuity and skincare background to solve a problem.
“I felt guilty that he would lick this chemical off his nose,” she said.
When she couldn’t find a product, she set out to create one. Using her skincare knowledge, she began searching for products to make a safe sunscreen beneficial to the skin. It was a mixture of shea butter, all-natural oils, and Maine ingenuity that resulted in the Natural Healing Stick.
“It’s good for noses to toes and everywhere in between,” she said.
Then, Dwyer started creating a shampoo that would be sulfate-free, friendly to the dogs and the environment. She shared her creations with friends and family. They encouraged her to start selling the products.
Today, Mutt Nose Best, located at 30 Bomarc Road in Bangor, is a Maine-made company that has grooming products in 630 stores in 38 states, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The company is in the process of going global. The facility is not a retail location.
“I would never have thought that it would have taken off like this,” Dwyer said. “We committed to small businesses. We handcraft every batch here and buy local as much as we can. We also don’t use a distributor so we can stay in control of where the products go.”
Each product Mutt Nose Best creates is first tested on humans, namely her husband, Doug, who helps manufacture the formula’s base. Working in conjunction with a local chemist, the Mutt Nose Best brand is based on several main bases with additional ingredients, all locally sourced, when possible, added during bottling.
The business’s fun approach to grooming products has gained it notice throughout the country. Some of the company’s products include U Dirty Dog, U Hairy Dog, U Smelly Dog, and U Itchy Dog complemented by a hand-crafted approach to skin and coat care.
Where did the names for the products come from? A misspelling of Doug’s name on a birthday cake as “Happy Birthday, Dog.” Dwyer’s nephew started calling him “U Dog.” The name fits the business’s concept perfectly. That approach is part of what separated Mutt Nose Best from the pack.
“It really started with the nose balm,” Dwyer said, “Then, it moved into developing a special brand for a local groomer. From there, the company blossomed. We decided to go to market with it. What sets us apart is that we’re from Maine, which represents hard-working people and natural products. I know the products better because we use them and I made them for my dogs, so I held them to the highest standards possible. But I didn’t know how to get that across to others.”
That “something” she had searched for came in the form of blueberries.
“I thought about what says ‘Maine,’ and it was wild Maine blueberries,” Dwyer said. “I had just read a study about how Europe is starting to use blueberries in skincare products. It was an ‘aha’ moment. There was only one blueberry dog shampoo at the time, and it was only a blueberry fragrance. Blueberries are super nutritious and are great topically. Plus, the deep blue pigment brightens whites. Bandit’s coat looks so white when he’s been washed. We use wild Maine blueberries, which are scientifically proven to be super nutritious.”
Who are the dogs of Mutt Nose Best? Dwyer’s pack includes an 8-year-old Australian Shepherd Bandit, Australian Shepherd, Bella, and their three long-coated dachshund siblings, Sophie, Chloe Cooper. Mutt Nose Best also has three feline family members.
Dwyer said the business had allowed her to continually give back to charitable organizations through the businesses “Paw it Forward” campaign and “Clean Paws for a Cause.”
“We encourage our retailers to have dog wash campaigns,” she said. “Last fall, we had one at Blue Seal in Bangor where over 100 dogs got washed. Because of that, we were able to pay the adoption fees for all of the available dogs at the Bangor Humane Society, about 16 total.”
Dwyer is excited to look ahead at a rapidly expanding business. Her small but dedicated staff is ready to keep the momentum going. To learn more about Mutt Nose Best, visit muttnosebest.com or find them on Facebook.