During a relatively brief career, Dodds established himself as one of America's finest indoor middle-distance runners. He studied for the ministry at Ashland College, Ohio, the Boston Theological Seminary, and Wheaton College in Illinois. The AAU indoor mile champion in 1942, 1944, and 1947, Dodds set an American record of 4:06.5 in 1943, when he finished second to Gundar Haegg of Sweden in a Boston meet. He won the Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete for his performances that year. Dodds ran a world record indoor mile of 4:06.4, then retired after being undefeated during the indoor season. Hoping to make the 1948 Olympics, he returned to the track late in 1947 and ran a 4:06.8 mile at the Chicago Relays, then set a Madison Square Garden record of 4:07.1. In 1948, he turned in his best time ever, a 4:05.3, in winning the Wanamaker Mile for a third time. However, he caught the mumps before the Olympic trials and was forced to retire permanently.