John is a German Shepherd.
He is black on his back and snout, while everything else is a light brown. In GNG anime, his markings are very different.
In the manga, he is seen with either yellow or pale blue eyes. In the GDW anime, he has dark blue eyes. He wears a dark brown collar in GNG, while in later mangas he has a yellow collar.
John is an arrogant, cocky and short-tempered dog. However, he is also very loyal and brave.
He is quite a big show-off and it's mentioned that he is proud of being European breed rather than Japanese one. He has seen the world with Hidetoshi and helped him hunt several animals, including large and dangerous beasts. It's possible that due to this he never had much relationships with other dogs, explaining his somewhat poor social skills.
Though he certainly has skill and strength, he seems to view himself more stronger than he actually is. He often recklessly challenges much stronger opponents, like Riki and Gaia and even once the whole pack of Kurojaki, always being sure that he will win. He is impatient and wants to leap in battle even when it's not a smart thing to do and would lead in trouble or even his death.
John has a notably harsh tongue. He is prone to swear and insult his opponents. However, he talks to the Old Dog in a polite way, proving that he has respect at least for elders. He seems to have problems admitting the skill and strength in other dogs, but learns to respect Gin and Riki.
Few times, John has shown interest in leading other dogs. At first he wanted to take over Riki's pack and then Kurojaki's pack. He seems to like the idea of other dogs serving and obeying him. Given his attitude and temper, he probably wouldn't be a very good leader.
He is stubborn and sometimes doesn't listen the others very well. He also seems to take negative first impressions of other dogs, most of them later changing. He is often aggressive at the dogs who have done no harm.
In Ginga Densetsu Weed, he is much older and has became more humble, not anymore seeing himself as the best. However, he is still very confident and hotheaded, especially if underestimated due to his age. He is still aggressive (like towards Sasuke at first) and tends to not trust strangers (like Reika and Gon). Akame and Gin scold him at the times due to his rude behavior or eagerness to kill. Nevertheless, he shows unending bravery and loyalty.
Ginga Nagareboshi Gin
John is Hidetoshi's hunting dog. As he meets the young Gin, he at first, becomes his rival at who to defeat Akakabuto with their masters. One night, when Gin snuck out to find the wild dogs which he spotted on a hunt with Daisuke John follows him, also wanting to figure out more about the wild dogs. John approaches the wild dogs in an arrogant and cocky way, quickly attacking the first platoon leader, Ben, but their fight gets called off as the bear Madara kills Basset.
The wild dogs didn't want to risk more soldiers and flee, much to John's disgust. As the wild dogs and Gin jump over a cliff, John stays behind to fight the bear, being too stubborn and proud to flee.
The wild dogs help Gin chase Madara away, and Ben admires both their courage and let them meet their boss. The leader and the group of wild dogs gathering to defeat Akakabuto doesn't impress John saying that it's weak to gather in a group. Gin decides to travel with the wild dogs, but made John promise to stay behind and take care of Daisuke. John promised to do that.
One day Daisuke ventured out to go bear hunting, but soon got in over hanging danger. John stepped in and was about to save him, as the wild dogs' leader Riki appeared and killed the bear before John. Daisuke had passed out and the two dogs fought to test each others strength. John was defeated and then joined the Ōu soldiers. As Gin struggled with defeating the Koga dogs' leader Kurojaki, John ran into Hyena, who was trying to re-join the group, and the two spied on Kurojaki. John then attempted to capture Kurojaki, but failed. He then joined Ben's platoon and traveled alongside Gin, facing dangers like meeting Benizakura.
John was present in the final battle and helped his comrades to defeat the bears led by Akakabuto. He also distracted Akakabuto himself with Akame to help Gin and his leader. John survives the final battle and stays in Ōu mountains with many of his comrades.
When the conflict with Reima's wolves starts, John does not enter the Palace of Reima as he is sent to fetch the armies of Mutsu Generals and Hakurō to help. Moss leads their army into Reima's palace.
He fights with other soldiers against Gaia's soldiers and later recklessly tries to attack Gaia himself. He manages to give Gaia a wound but the wolf leader defeats him easily with few strikes.
John survives the battle and returns to Ōu with the others.
Ginga Densetsu Weed
John is Gin’s best friend. John has been a hunting dog and owned by the man Hidetoshi, but he joined Gin a long time ago. After a mission to the Northern Alps, he, Gin and Akame get trapped by the Great Dane Hōgen. John fights the best he can, but is ordered to surrender (with Gin and Hiro) when Hōgen takes the female Reika as a hostage.
John remains in the captivity of Hōgen for a while, unable to move due to his injuries. Over time, Hook and Sasuke arrive and help them by giving them all small piles of snow to drink from. When Missile and Jet return and are executed for betraying Hōgen, three dogs loyal to Ohu (Lefty, Tommy and Rossi) help John escape along with Reika and Hiro.
John begins to struggle in the snow with his wounds and insists that Hiro take Reika away down the side path while he fights off the dogs coming for them. He convinces Hiro to take Reika to safety by promising not to die, then waits to face the soldiers alone.
John fights the dogs with his three comrades but is outnumbered and slows down with exhaustion. John is pinned down as Hōgen himself appears and John fights him.
Unfortunately, John is badly hurt and cannot win this battle. His will remains strong despite his ruined body and he continues to defy Hōgen by refusing to beg for his life or to stay down. Hōgen gets his soldiers to overwhelm John and torture him. This is all being witnessed by Hook and Sasuke, who are hidden in the forest and are too afraid to help John.
As they try to will themselves to go down and fight John senses their presence and calls out that his comrades must stay where they are and live for tomorrow. Hōgen decides to deal a finishing blow but wants to see him beg.
John continues to mock him and refuse, so Hōgen bites at a bad wound on his side and yanks out his intestine. John reacts in great pain and yet retaliates by biting through his intestine and freeing himself from Hōgen's grip. The soldiers are in awe and are terrified of John by this point, who looks like blood covered demon while he stands and states that even if his body falls, his soul will live on in his comrades.
His strength has finally left him once Hōgen, who is enraged, knocks him over. He begins to see memories of Hidetoshi, Gin and his old comrades, unaware of his body or his true surroundings.
He then sees Smith and Riki across a river who tell him not to give in. Hōgen continues to taunt John and becomes furious at being ignored and he continues to abuse John's body until his horrified soldiers convince him that he must be dead, at which John is finally left to die alone in the snow.
As they leave, Hōgen finds himself experiencing fear in his heart for the first time after his experience with John's unbeatable spirit.
Before John takes his last breath, he meets Weed who arrived too late after hearing his voice in the wind. Hook and Sasuke come down from hiding at this point and tell Weed who John was and what had happened with Hōgen. John regains consciousness and speaks to Weed, telling him about Gin's condition and apologizing for his failure at being unable to save his father. He begins hallucinating and thinks Akame is there along with reinforcements. Hook surprises them by pretending to be Akame. John tells him to look after Weed to which Hook responds that they already have an army of 1,000 soldiers and that Gin will be rescued easily.
Weed and company play along to keep him conscious and pretend the reinforcements are arriving, acting out signal howls that signify how Gin has been rescued. They beg for him to just wait five minutes to have Hōgen brought before him for mercy to which John scoffs and says he's always hated waiting. He thinks to himself how it cannot be helped, and that he is going on ahead to fight Akakabuto again. He then closes his eyes and dies.
Weed is enraged and wants to immediately avenge John, but is held back by the others. His pack catches up with him and after they catch up on events, they mourn John, rage at Hook and Sasuke for their cowardice and cause them to regret their choice. They hear someone coming and decide to flee as they are within Hōgen's territory.
Weed is able to leave him alone in the snow after Jerome states that the snow will preserve his body until spring, so they will be able to return and bury him.
All is silent and snowing when it is Ben who is revealed to be the source of the voice. He is blind and has been gradually increasing in dementia with his old age. He comes across John and speaks sadly to the body, believing this to be the reason he came that way and asks how he died. It had been 8 years since he last saw John, he believes it to be the body of a stranger and is mentally unable to recognize him.
He picks up the body and takes John with him as he continues on his lost wanderings towards Ōu. Ben then takes John back to Ben's old owner Iguchi, who gives John a proper burial. His spirit was seen, along side Smith's spirit to encourage Gin to escape when he was captured by Hōgen the first time.
John appears to Weed in the final battle, encouraging him to carry on fighting as well as mocking Hōgen. John makes his last appearance as a spirit to a dying Moss, he welcomes him into heaven with the rest of the deceased soldiers.
Ginga Densetsu Weed: Orion
With John deceased he is mentioned a few times in the story by Andy when he tells Rigel and Kotetsu that John is his uncle. And after the battle is over Hidetoshi comments that since Andy has joined the Ouu Army's pack that he is just like him.
Ginga: The Last Wars
John is one of the dogs mentioned by Bob on Monsoon's hit list of those who killed his father. When Monsoon was fighting against Gennai he began to experience flashback of John trying to kill him when Gin tried to stop him.
- In the GNG anime, he shares a striking resemblance with John and Big Hunter from SSY.
- It was also revealed in Ginga Densetsu Weed: Orion manga that John was born in Finland, though his birthplace was originally stated to be Tokyo in Meteor Gin and Ginga Densetsu Weed Meishōbu Retsuden (it is likely that Yoshihiro forgot his original birthplace, as he is known to forget some older facts and characters) whereas he is stated to be from North America in the anime. While Tokyo isn't his birthplace, it can be considered his home as his master lived there for a while before returning to Higashinaruse. John is referred to as "true European" or "true American" depending on the medium, but he has also visited many other countries in different continents with his master which include Asia and Africa.
- According to Hidetoshi in Meteor Gin, John understands words from quite a few languages, including "turn of phrases of people living in slums in different parts of the world". He also mentions that he taught his dog English commands instead of Japanese, because English sounds more "stylish".
- John's character and personality came after Yoshihiro Takahashi's neighbor's dog.
- On occasion, John's eye color will change from yellow/brown to blue and vice versa, similar to Kurotora.