When I was starting to groom we were all taught to shave every pad as short as possible. When I started showing and competing as a groomer with American Cockers I was told NOT to shave the pads out completely.
It was confusing to say the least.
Now, the newest thinking on the subject of shaving out pads is less scooping MAY be better in some dogs.
Leaving the hair in the pads (provided its not matted of course) and only trimming it flush with the pad or a very scoop in the pad area is more on trend now because we are beginning to realize that the hair is actually there to protect the tender skin between the toes.
In cocker spaniels and other dogs prone to yeast, shaving the pads really tight can easily result in a yeast infection being able to take root in the pads. Dogs who lick their feet are less likely to cause bleeding and sores in the foot itself if a little hair is left. The pad is less likely to be damaged by foreign objects in the environment as well if there is a little bit of hair.
Some people use the clipper to take out just a little hair and others use shears to do it.
Here is a picture of a foot done with no scooping, only a blade used to level it off.
If you are using shears, and I do it a lot with shears, use short shears you can control. I use curved shears turned BACKWARDS with the points towards me, to make it less likely I will cut a dog.
If the dog is antsy or tends to kick, then use a 40 blade and just skim the pads without going in between the pads and toes. This will also minimize irritation.
Dogs that lick their feet can actually cause yeast and bacterial infections to continue and sometimes, not shaving the pads out, will stop this behavior.
YES some dogs need to have their pads shaved out but not every dog does.
It DOES NOT make you any less professional to skim or scissor pads! It makes you a caring person that is doing what is best for your clients.
And isn't that what we want to do?? The best job we can for our clients.