Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a pantropic morbillivirus with a worldwide distribution, which causes fatal disease in dogs. Affected animals develop dyspnea, diarrhea, neurological signs and profound immunosuppression. Systemic CDV infection, resembling distemper in domestic dogs, can be found also in wild canids (e.g. wolves, foxes), procyonids (e.g. raccoons, kinkajous), ailurids (e.g. red pandas), ursids (e.g. black bears, giant pandas), mustelids (e.g. ferrets, minks), viverrids (e.g. civets, genets), hyaenids (e.g. spotted hyenas), and large felids (e.g. lions, tigers). Furthermore, besides infection with the closely related phocine distemper virus, seals can become infected by CDV. In some CDV outbreaks including the mass mortalities among Baikal and Caspian seals and large felids in the Serengeti Park, terrestrial carnivores including dogs and wolves have been suspected as vectors for the infectious agent. In addition, lethal infections have been described in non-carnivore species such as peccaries and non-human primates demonstrating the remarkable ability of the pathogen to cross species barriers. Mutations affecting the CDV H protein required for virus attachment to host-cell receptors are associated with virulence and disease emergence in novel host species. The broad and expanding host range of CDV and its maintenance within wildlife reservoir hosts considerably hampers disease eradication.