Icons of the Sport: John Marvin

Learn about the contributions of dog breeder, judge and author John Tasker Marvin.

John Marvin

Affectionately called Mr. Westie, John Tasker Marvin was a breeder, judge and author. His contributions to  Wire Fox Terriers  and  Scottish Terriers were equally notable, and his vast knowledge of all terriers ranks him among the most authoritative canine historians.

Born on Jan. 2, 1906 in Chicago, Jack (as he was known) and his wife, Bea, began breeding Wires in 1932, while he was studying chemical engineering at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. They began breeding under the Cranbourne prefix in 1943 after acquiring their first Westie. In 1949, they added Scotties. Groomed by Jack and handled by Bea, the Cranbourne terriers produced more than 25 champions, including three BIS Westies.

Jack and Bea were also extremely active in all-breed and specialty clubs like the Scottish Terrier Club of America and American Fox Terrier Club. Jack was secretary of the West Highland White Terrier Club of America from 1947 to 1964, president from 1967 to 1969, AKC delegate until 1988, and longtime newsletter and yearbook editor. He was vice president of the Wire Fox Terrier Club of the Central States, and Jack and Bea were later inducted into their hall of fame. He was president and show chairman of the Dayton KC, VP of Montgomery from 1969 to 1977, and show chairman from 1971 to 1977.

He started judging in 1939 and was approved for all terrier breeds in 1947. After Jack retired from a 30-year career as a patent attorney in 1966, he and Bea moved to Doylestown, Pa., and he became approved for several Sporting breeds. A respected terrier specialist, he judged many national specialties and the Terrier Group at Westminster in 1966, 1973, 1979 and 1984. In 1966, his choice of the Wire import bitch Ch. Zeloy Mooremaides Magic sent her forward to BIS, but his 1984 group winner, Ch. Braeburn’s Close Encounter, had to wait one more year for her Westminster Best.

To most of the dog world, Jack is best remembered as an insightful writer. President of DWAA from 1973 to 1979, he amassed a personal library of more than 3,000 volumes along with a formidable collection of canine artwork and memorabilia. He wrote extensively for the AKC Gazette including a 10-chapter account of AKC’s history in the first edition of the AKC Sourcebook. A prolific feature writer, he produced more than 1,000 published articles, and is best known for his historical pieces and fascinating research on extinct breeds. Jack’s writing was widely admired for its meticulous research, accuracy, clarity and dry wit. His published books included the Fox Terrier Scrapbook, The Book of All Terriers and The Complete Book of Dog Tales. Two of his breed books, The Complete West Highland White Terrier, and The Complete Scottish Terrier, have gone through several editions. Jack was working on a Fox Terrier book at the time of his death in 1988.


From the September 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the September 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.

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