In this column, I didn't get into the differences between the American Kennel Club's Havanese breed and what Pip really is, a Havana Silk Dog. I'd thoroughly researched both before deciding that what I wanted was a dog with the best probability of a long, healthy life and a great start in life. Unless you personally know a breeder, it can be very hard to be certain whether you're buying from a puppy mill—some "dog brokers" can put up a very convincing front! AKC registers dogs from the most horrible puppy mills and hobby breeders that cut costs on vet visits and don't know how to do careful, knowledgeable study of dog pedigree lines before mating their dogs. The bottom line for the AKC is caring for nothing except the dog's pedigree and the registration fees, and all they require (besides that registration fee) is that both parents be registered with the AKC for that breed. They don't refuse registration for dogs that have even the worst genetic defects that cause the most painful, life-shortening conditions. And they're fine registering dogs from the most crowded, unsanitary, unhealthy, unethical puppy mills. The whole reason these horrible breeders thrive is because of the AKC policies.
Havana Silk Dogs are no more expensive than most Havanese, despite the expensive and time-consuming work breeders MUST do to register puppies in the Havana Silk Dog Association of America. I think the AKC has a lot of work to do to ever regain my trust; the HSDAA has earned it.