What a wonderful postHeidi...
Welcome to the site of very passionate dog lovers! :]
There has been some recent discussion on the sale of dogs in pet shops, back yard breeders, and why so many dogs end up in shelters, pounds etc. The consensus seems to be that irresponsible BYB's and puppy mills are to blame, and that pet shops often support them, The topic is rather emotive and most are frustrated by what can (or rather what can't) be done to fix the problem, and might explain some of the comments you've received.
That said, I thought I would add my two cents worth (which you are welcome to discount to zero if you wish) :]
In my opinion, the difference between a reputable breeder and ANY other breeder (whether registered or not), is that reputable breeders breed to improve the breed. MOST importantly, they do this by health checking their breeding stock to ensure no hereditary diseases are present and being ever mindful that the temperament of their stock must be consistent with the breed standard and refuse to breed with any that are temperamentally unsound.
Buying from a BYB may be cheaper but comes with the possibility of huge costs (both financially and emotionally) if one or more of these diseases and/or bad temperament are subsequently found to be present. In the sad event that this happens, your purchase price might be but a drop in the bucket of what is to come or you may be faced with a heart-breaking decision regarding the future of your new pet.
My wife (Cleasanta) and I both know this from personal past experience and is largely why we feel so strongly about it.
We now have two staffies which we purchased for showing from two different registered breeders.* Unfortunately, our boy turned out to have some nasty skin allergies (one of which is to agapanthus).* This cost us a lot in vet bills and meant we had to rip out over 100 agapanthus plants we had in our back yard!* Once we knew he had allergies, we had him desexed as a lot of allergies are passed on from the parents.* The fact that his breeder has not responded to our emails suggests what is now our view regarding him as a breeder!
The point of this however is that even buying from a registered breeder is no guarantee. Our poor boy is stuck with allergies for the rest of his life which may well have been avoided had the breeding been done responsibly in the first place.
I don't wish to force my opinions on you but merely urge you to consider the whole picture.* BYB's (who don't bother testing for hereditary diseases) should not be supported despite how nice they might be, because they add to the overall problem whether they intend to or not, and may end up costing you personally (both financially and emotionally as stated earlier), not to mention what it costs the poor puppies, who have to live with, or die from, these diseases, some of which are very nasty,!!!
Incidentally, our little girl somehow managed to break her leg which cost us over $1,000 so you might want to consider setting aside a few dollars a week to build up a bit of a vet bill emergency fund (as we now do!).
The decision to buy a pup should be a fun, exciting one, and ultimately will be made mostly on emotion. Even so, it should be taken with careful consideration given that it is (or at least should be) a lifelong decision for the pup.
Regardless of what you decide, I hope your family and your new pup have a wonderful, long, healthy life together :]