By Arden Moore
Of all the species on the planet, dogs definitely sport a capital D for diversity. Size-wise, they range from teacup Chihuahuas to mammoth English mastiffs. In terms of canine coats, there are silky Yorkshire terriers, double-coated Australian shepherds, curly poodles, wiry border terriers, corded komondors and hairless xoloitzcuintli.
Some breeds like the schnauzer, puli and bichon frise need frequent grooming to keep their coat styles mirroring their breed looks. Step into a traditional pet grooming salon and it’s a good bet you’ll see that the majority of dogs there have high-maintenance coats that need trimming, shaping or ridding of matted fur.
For those dogs an appointment takes three hours or more. It takes at least four hours for my groomer to brush out the mountains of excess black hair, bathe, blow dry and nail trim Bujeau, my 80-pound Bernese mountain dog mix.
But Tim Vogel wants to go beyond traditional grooming and focus on dogs’ overall health. As founder of the fast-growing South Florida-based Scenthound, Vogel is on a mission to make preventive care quick, convenient and affordable for people with dogs of all sizes and care needs.
Yep, his shops welcome all — including the yellow Labrador who just rolled in duck poo, the beagle with stinky breath and the golden retriever whose overgrown nails make tap-dancing sounds on the hardwood floor.
And Scenthound stores are strategically located in shopping centers with supermarkets so you can drop off your dog, complete your shopping and pick up your dog to head home together.
“We want to make it fast, easy and affordable for all dogs, and be able to get your dog in and out of our groom shop in 20 minutes for a low monthly membership,” says Vogel, who is also a professional pet groomer. “We found that there is a huge unmet need out there of dogs and of people who like having clean dogs.”
One-time monthly visits for members are $25, and that covers the cost for bath, towel drying, ear cleaning, nail clip and teeth brushing. Blow drying and haircuts are extra. The goal of monthly maintenance is fewer problems to deal with, allowing for short visits.
Call Vogel ambitious and definitely a lover of all dogs. He and his wife, Jessica, share their Jupiter home with Lucy, a full-of-love, happy golden-doodle. His aha moment in creating Scenthound occurred several years ago when he had a chat with a neighbor, who had a Labrador retriever.
“I could smell his dog’s ear infections and noticed his knuckles because of his overgrown nails,” recalls Vogel. “He told me his dog doesn’t go to a groomer because he doesn’t need a haircut. But what his dog and all dogs need are preventive maintenance. That’s when I realized there was a huge need to give all dogs the regular maintenance they need. All dogs benefit from bathed coats, trimmed nails, clean teeth and odor-free ears.”
Vogel selected the name Scenthound strategically, as “scent” contains “s” for skin care, “c” for coat, “e” for ears, “n” for nails and “t” for teeth.
“A dog’s skin as the largest organ is usually the first indicator of health issues,” he says. “One time, I was blow-drying a golden retriever and noticed a weird pattern on his skin. I urged the owner to see his veterinarian right away. The veterinarian told him that his dog was within 48 hours of dying due to a staph infection.”
As for haircuts and coats, Vogel is not a fan of shaving down to the skin. “A dog’s coat acts as an insulator, keeping the dog cool as well as warm,” he explains. “What does need being brushed out is the undercoat to allow air to flow through.”
Canine ears come in all sizes and shapes. Bloodhounds and cocker spaniels have heavy, drooping ears that can trap moisture and mites.
“Regular maintenance of swabbing out the ears every two to four weeks and removing excess hair in the ears can avoid discomfort, pain and itchiness as well as preventing that nasty yeasty smell,” Vogel says.
Overgrown nails can scratch some floors or get snagged in rugs, causing painful bleeding that requires veterinary treatment. Vogel is a fan of regular nail trims, including the dewclaws located on the inside sides of each front paw.
Another biggie in the canine health maintenance regimen is the mouth.
“Foods can leave a biofilm on teeth, and infection in the mouth can impact a dog’s heart, liver, brain and other organs,” he says. “By age 3, about 80 percent of all dogs have some form of periodontal disease — and stinky breath.”
Of the top 10 most popular dog breeds, only two — poodles and Yorkshire terriers — require detailed and regular haircuts. But all dogs need and deserve maintenance to their coats, teeth, ears and nails.
“We don’t do breed standard haircuts — we do puppy cuts instead,” Vogel says. “Our brand position is focused on the overall health of the dog, not on a haircut style. Our goal is not to have the dog look pretty, but to have the dog be snuggle ready.”
Scenthound has locations in Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Wellington. It plans to open new ones in Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens by February. Plans call for 30 shops by end of 2020. To learn more and find a Scenthound near you, visit www.scenthound.com.
Arden Moore, founder of fourleggedlife.com, is an animal behavior expert and host of the Oh Behave! show on petliferadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.