Canine distemper virus (CDV) (Paramyxoviridae-Morbillivirus) is a worldwide spread virus causing a fatal systemic disease in a broad range of carnivore hosts. In this study we performed Bayesian inferences using 208 full-length hemagglutinin gene nucleotide sequences isolated in 16 countries during 37 years (1975-2011). The estimated time to the most recent common ancestor suggested that current CDV strains emerged in the United States in the 1880s. This ancestor diversified through time into two ancestral clades, the current America 1 lineage that recently spread to Asia, and other ancestral clade that diversified and spread worldwide to originate the remaining eight lineages characterized to date. The spreading of CDV was characterized by several migratory events with posterior local differentiation, and expansion of the virus host range. A significant genetic flow between domestic and wildlife hosts is displayed; being domestic hosts the main viral reservoirs worldwide. This study is an extensive and integrative description of spatio/temporal population dynamics of CDV lineages that provides a novel evolutionary paradigm about the origin and dissemination of the current strains of the virus.