Anyone ever buy a puppy from Hilltop Meadows in Caldwell TX

  • First Basenji's

    HI I'm Vickay,

    I am getting a Basenji very soon. I want to buy it from a breeder in Caldwell, TX from a place called Hilltop Meadows by a breeder named Candice. I have been trying to research about her and how good of a breeder she is. Her prices are very good and I spoke to her on the phone and by e-mail she was very nice and had answers to all my questions but just because she says something doesn't mean its true. I won't be able to visit the puppy before I get it considering I live in NJ and all the breeders here are too expensive or all the puppies are bought out. If anyone knows anyone that got a dog from her I would love to know I want to make the right decision about choosing to buy from her then someone else. Thank u!

  • As they say, you get what you pay for…. Does she do Fanconi testing? Those results are in the public database at You need the sire and dam's names that the test was submitted on or their registration numbers. You should alway check these for yourself and not take someone's word for it. What other health testing has she done? Saying they are Vet Checked and have always been healthly is not an answer for health testing before breeding. From what I can tell her Basenjis are not AKC registered which in my book makes her a Backyard Breeder.

    Go and read this thread about this breeder, as she does (or did not) test for Fanconi, using DNA testing. Also she has other breeds that she sells, so to me this is not a responsible breeder.

  • First Basenji's

    I asked her about the testing. She tested the parents and they are free of it. Also the puppies get a swab test. None of her dogs ever had it. Her dogs were registered with another association i just don't remember it off the top of my head but it was not AKC. She did tell me about the other dogs she breeds so it worried me as well. She has a one year health guarantee for her puppies and only one puppy out of 15 years died. So I'm not sure what to think. I saw another person had posted something about her back in 2009 but they have not been on this forum since they got the dog so i dont think i will be hearing from them. She did say she has many many references so I would be calling them but who knows if they are just her friends. I have so many questions haha.

  • Unless you find the test results on the sire and dam at they are NOT tested, no ifs, ands or buts about it. This is something you should research yourself. And yes, her dogs are registered with what are considered "fly by night" registration places because AKC requires DNA parentage testing on high volume breeders that those breeders don't want to pay. One year health guarantee on a Basenji is pretty useless…. since Fanconi is late onset (3+yrs), PRA (blindness) late onset (5+yrs), Thyroid issues, usually late onset, Hips - can't be tested until yrs old (they can be prelim'ed before that), so one year doesn't give you much in this breed. Has she kept in touch with every puppy that she has sold to know about the health? Just because the sire and dam might not have Fanconi, doesn't mean that they are both not carriers and produced Fanconi offspring. Or if they passed from some other reason? I am glad to hear however that she will test the pups... but again, it is the buyers responsiblily to follow up on for themselves. Do not just take anyones word for it.

    Again, like I said, breeding is not cheap... responibles breeders do not make money, they do it for the love of the breed and to better the breed. I have never made a profit from breeding, I consider it lucky if I break even with a litter. As person such as this is one that is breeding for profit only, period.... IMO

    Consider this.... how much quality socialization could she possibily give pups when she has at least 3 or 4 other breeds? It is hard enough to socialize one litter of pups (average size 4 to 6) properly let alone have puppies from other breeds at the same time. Even if only one bitch of each of the other breeds has a litter around the same time, at the very least that would maybe be 15 to 20 pups. There is no way you can properly socialize all those pups at the same time.

    You would be far better off to save your money and maybe wait till next year for a pup and go to a responsible breeder

  • Looked into it on my own as my first suspicion was immediately a back yard breeder or mill, whatever you want to call it… And she is. She wouldn't get my vote!in my opinion buying the puppy is the least expensive investment you make for it, the costs only rise as you get one and so if you are looking into it as being "cost effective" then you may be concentrating on the wrong things. Buying from a reputable and IMO, an AKC breeder will only lessen the lifetime costs

  • Buying a puppy is a lifetime commitment for both you and the dog. if the puppy turns out to be an unsocialized wild thing, are you prepared to invest the significant time and expense to train the puppy to be a well behaved part of your family? Most puppies from responsible breeders are socialized and have sound temperaments. Those from puppy mills tend to end up in rescue or worse, when the unknowing buyers find they have taken on more than they can handle. I would be suspect of her based on her puppy millish type breeding practices. You should expect to pay approx $900 for a well bred puppy. Many breeders will work out payment plans with you. There are still good puppies available this yr, you do not have to take this route.

  • Before you buy a puppy from a breeder please consider adopting one from BRAT.. there's SO many that need homes. You can get a puppy/young Basenji from them that's been tested/already vetted/etc.

  • Buy from a reputable breeder. Do a lot research on that breeder and I think you did a good thing on asking what other people here think of that breeder. Make sure all of the health testing is done and make sure you check it out for yourself. If you are thinking of possilby adopting look into BRAT as well. They can match and place personalities of the dogs to your specific needs, find one that is suitable for your family. I know that pups are being born and this is the time to get one, but do not rush into this. Be willing to wait for something from someone you can trust. Hope this helps.

  • First Basenji's


    I asked her about the testing. She tested the parents and they are free of it. Also the puppies get a swab test.

    Ask her for the link to their health tests in the OFA database (which is public) or the names so that you can look up the test results for yourself. She shouldn't be offended that you want to check for yourself. Absolutely NOTHING is coming up when I check for "hilltop" + Basenji, but maybe she has it under another name.

    There are lots and lots of red flags with this breeder. If you search for her name, her phone number, and her e-mail address, you'll find that she has bred SO many breeds: Shelties, Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, Chinese Cresteds, Papillon… Frankly, I've lost count. It appears that she got her Basenjis from Shemax -- if you do a search, you'll find lots of information about them on this forum, as well.

    I would back out of this deal and try to find something closer. I thought there were lots of good Basenji breeders and clubs on the East Coast? There's certainly no shortage of BRAT rescues, from what I've seen!

    Aside from the BCOA website (, here's a useful link to help you in your search, as well:

  • First Basenji's

    It really sucks because I was so set on getting this puppy soon. I will contact her for more information so I can have more piece of mind. I will continue researching about her and other breeders. I am extremely appreciate for the help you guys have given me it is so nice to take ur time out to do this. I just want a healthy dog to live. One question though, is it a super high chance that all these health problems will be prevalent with the dogs if she says she has SOOOO many references. Wouldn't she be ashamed to give up the names but i will def ask her if she keeps in touch with the owners she sold too.

  • There are some reputable breeders in n?e England, to that I can certainly attest. However, with that being said, new England is also not known for being "cheap"… Which to be honest isn't that expensive across the board. A pup around here usually costs approximate. 1000$
    Price should be the smallest consideration when
    Purchasing a basenji, IMO there are so many other concerns that take precedence

  • First Basenji's

    Also just saying, which is rather crappy of me saying, but I look at the big picture I guess. If this dog is bought by someone else n they do not like it and give it up for adoption I could be the one adopting it.. right? Just saying its a crazy cycle if you think about it. Unfortunately its not a perfect world. I do not want to be supporting a puppy mill but in some way this dog will need a home other wise will be in a shelter or other.. I do not want anyone thinking I am taking the VERY HELPFUL info they've been giving me and being useless with it because its not true. I was just curious what others may feel about this thought. I am doing more and more research to pick the right choice.

  • And yes, it is very easy some,most of these dogs could develop health issues and not tell the breeder, not attribute those problems to neglectful breeding,l. Not to mention most health problems in basenjis are late onset therefore the dogs shes bred may not show health issues yet.
    The point I'm trying to make is that you don't weigh the chances this dog could turn out healthy, it's about making the right decision not to take such risks.

  • First Basenji's

    What does it mean that she got her dogs from Shemax just wondering?

  • First Basenji's

    Also she said she micro-chips her dogs so she can have a record of them and the owners and their info so I'm not sure how to take that info into use.

  • Hi Vickay, and welcome. Yes, I bought a basenji puppy from Candyce last February. She was a pleasant person, and eventually did send me AKC papers for my puppy. I had no idea how much I would LOVE this breed and I wish that I had bought from a reputable basenji breeder who only breeds dogs tested negative for eyes and knees and hips, etc. I think what everybody has written so far is accurate. I think she is not devoted to the breed. I think she is in it to make money. Fortunately, when I tested Binti she was Probable Clear for fanconi. I have not sent in the $50. for the new test yet to prove absolutely that she is clear. All that said, Binti was well socialized when she arrived, and clean and so far is a very healthy dog. (But, like Tanza said, many of the basenji problems arise after one year old.) She was a little snarky at first, but my behavior contributed greatly to that. She is my first basenji and I did not understand how dominant they can be. Once we established (firmly but gently) that she was not in charge, all has been well. I took her to get spayed two weeks ago and the attendant greeted her cautiously and then said with a surprised voice, "Oh! She's friendly!" And I said, "Well, of course! She loves everybody," to which she responded that most of the basenjis she meets are NOT friendly. I am just adding this to say it appears she has a good temperament. So, for a backyard bred dog, I think I'm very lucky. I also think she is a fairly decent looking dog. She is almost square and weighs 20 pounds. I have children aged 11 and 14, and the 11 year old can be pretty boisterous. This never seems to bother her at all, she has never been aggressive in the least (except in the beginning when we tried to move her when she was sleeping and she would growl–which she does not do anymore!). She is one years old right now. Just thought you'd like to hear my experience. Next time I will do my research and purchase from a real basenji breeder. But I am grateful that Binti is the good little dog she is and that we love her so much. Good luck on whatever decision you make.

  • First Basenji's

    I know it sucks to derail your plans, because a new puppy is something to be incredibly excited about. But you will be excited, no matter when your puppy arrives, and more importantly, you would have the life-long assurance of a good breeder and the knowledge that you did the right thing if you go with an ethical breeder.

    I also understand the conflict about wondering if you don't buy her dog, maybe the next person who is not as well prepared and not as loving will screw it up. I don't know if this article answers any questions, but it might be a start.

    When I was searching online for more information that I could offer you about this breeder, I came across a public announcement from Shemax (Sheila Maxwell) that said, "WE ARE GOING TO SELL OUR BASENJIS TO CANDYCE WITTE OF CALDWELL, TX. SHE'LL FURNISH YOU WITH THE SAME PUPPIES AND SERVICE THAT WE WOULD WE ARE HAVING TO QUIT DUE TO HEALTH REASONS" (apologies for the caps – I just cut and pasted). The name rung a bell with me as several forum members have had negative experiences with that breeder's practices in the past. So if this breeder provides the "same puppies and service," that's not exactly something to hold in high regard...

    My main concern is that you can't verify ANYthing she says about her breeding practices with your own eyes. I've heard of plenty of breeders who insist that their dogs are "loved" and "happy" and "play every day," yet they spend their entire lives in an outdoor kennel, their frantic barking and wagging tails whenever a person walks by is interpreted as happiness when it's actually a desperate plea for the human companionship they DON'T get, and the amount of "play" that they get in a day amounts to being stuck in a 20' x 30' pen in the back of the farm, where they are left for hours where they MIGHT get some human interaction, and then returned to their cages at night.

    I say this as someone who bought my first dog (my Shiba, who is now nearing seven years old) from a totally shady seller. My Shiba was pretty sharp-tempered, we made a lot of mistakes in his puppyhood that we might have avoided with the guidance of a more knowledgeable breeder, and his health was excellent until he was about three years old. Then his allergies started getting worse and worse every year, until two summers ago when he was diagnosed as hypothyroid, a condition which is strongly influenced by genetics. Like Holly, I love my handsome pup who came from a for-profit breeder. But I would never, ever allow myself to do that again, because this ONE time, I got lucky.

    If I were you, I would definitely hold off on a decision until I had done more research, including a thorough reading of the BCOA website because there's a lot of useful information there. Check out this thorough section on screening breeders, for example.

    Doesn't have to be all serious reading – there are tons of gorgeous pictures of Basenjis that will get you through it, too. 😉

    (Sorry so long...)

  • It sounds to me like you are trying to justify buying a dog from this breeder. If money is a concern, and you have your heart set on a Basenji, why not look into getting a dog from BRAT, as others have recommended? Buying from a puppy mill (which is what this place sounds like) is simply going to keep them in business. There's no way we'll ever get rid of puppy mills until people stop buying from them (which also means not buying from pet stores).

    As for Fanconi testing, you said she told you she's tested for it and they're clear. If so, please get the names of the sire and dam and look it up at the OFA website…that's the only place this testing can be done, and the results will be on their website. If the information isn't there, she hasn't tested and is lying to you. She should also be able to provide you proof of the other testing she has done, as already mentioned here (such as eyes).

  • If you're going to get a dog from a breeder, I would do the research on parents health (also their siblings is a good start). I've had sick dogs before, and I didn't do my ABC before getting them, and sick dogs are NOT fun, not at all!

    Check out Winston, for example! 🙂

  • When you buy from a breeder such as this person all you are doing is the encourage her to keep breeding as she is only in it for the money

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