The domestication of the dog some 12 to 14,000 years ago has undoubtedly been of great benefit to humans. From a Darwinian perspective wolves that started to cohabit with humans made a smart choice given the nearly ubiquitous distribution of dogs around the world today compared to the patchy distribution and small population of wolves. The human:dog relationship may be as close as pampered and cosseted lap dogs to strays and feral dogs which live a precarious existence on the fringes of human society. The diversity of breeds of dogs and uses to which we put them may lead to their exposure to infectious organisms and their unwitting participation in the transmission of over 60 zoonotic infections (Hubbert et al., 1975; Baxter and Leck 1984) Human behaviour plays a pivotal role in the perpetuation of tapeworm or cestode infections in dogs and their zoonotic importance in humans being transmitted through the inadvertent ingestion of eggs (Macpherson et al., 2000).
This chapter reviews the complex role dogs play in the cestode zoonoses with a focus on the most important from a public health point of view, including Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis, to less common Echinococcus spp, Diphyllobothrium spp., Dipylidium sp., Taenia spp, Spirometra spp. and Mesocestoides spp.