John Dutton is the patriarch of the Dutton family and the owner of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, the largest ranch in the United States. He is the former Livestock Commissioner of Bozeman, Montana and one of the most respected, powerful members of the community. He stepped down from his position at the request of Governor Lynelle Perry and his son, Kayce Dutton, was named the new Livestock Commisioner.
Dutton was married to Evelyn, they had 4 kids together, 3 sons and a daughter, and the two ran the ranch together prior to her death in 1997. He buried Evelyn on the ranch. His father, John Dutton Sr., who retired from ranching due to his ailing health, died several years later of cancer, urging him never to give up the ranch to anyone.