A necropsy did not immediately indicate how a police dog died last weekend in Dorchester County, an official said Tuesday.

The initial findings uncovered no signs of abuse or neglect on the 1-year-old Belgian Malinois, according to Maj. John Garrison, spokesman for the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.

Experts in Columbia are considering a congenital defect as a possible cause of death, though final results of blood tests won’t be available for weeks, Garrison said.

“There was no gross finding,” Garrison said. “During training, the dog was having trouble with endurance and stamina.”

The dog and its handler had returned for the weekend after training in North Carolina. It had never been deployed, Garrison said.

The animal was in a shaded kennel when it was found dead Sunday, and earlier reports that the death could be heat-related proved unfounded, according to Garrison.

In the field, the shepherd dog breed is helpful in both tracking operations and drug detection.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.