“Puppy Mills” are universally recognized as ‘evil’ agents. Avoid them at all costs. I don’t believe that there are ANY puppy mills that are not universally considered to be bad.
“Back yard breeders” are not really that numerous. Some people breed their purebred dogs because they want their children to learn about this natural process and cycle of life. They might commonly have one litter of pups before having their dog(s) fixed.
We think that this family experience can indeed be an enriching one for children. Sometimes these people might breed dogs that should not have been bred, (they might have health problems, etc), but there are simply not that many dogs bred by these people, and the effects they may have on the overall health of any breed is nowhere near the effect that show breeders have on those breeds, through their practices that restrict the gene pool and increase the incidence of genetic disease.
If your neighbor’s purebred dog has a litter of puppies, and the parents look healthy and vigorous, and the price of the puppies is ‘right’, and the people seem like upstanding people, we think that a person is not taking a great risk by acquiring a dog from a back yard breeder. You should expect a lower price, and you should exercise some due caution in sizing up the overall picture of where these dogs come from.
On our web site, we specifically avoid using the term “reputable breeder”, (other than in explaining how this term is often used), because of the manner in which it has been ‘poisoned’ by people who use it to advance their own self interests.
We do rather make the distinction between “show breeders”, and “responsible pet breeders”.
At Z’s Havanese, we are not show breeders. We simply have no interest whatsoever in breeding dogs for the specific purpose of competing in dog beauty contests.
We are “responsible pet breeders”. Our breeding stock are our own beloved family pets. They are healthy and happy dogs with highly sociable and loving personalities. Our goal is to breed purebred dogs that will make excellent family pets.