my family had a female golden retriever for about 10 years before she succumbed to a heart condition (super sad story, she started having more and more seizures that were no longer controllable by medication, and we had to put her down cause she was losing control of her body and simply suffering), and she was great. they're super easy to train, she wasn't all that big, and extremely friendly. i've known a lot of families with retrievers and they love them. the only thing that's a bit of a hassle is the shedding. you really need ot groom dogs with longer hair. and retrievers eat anything and everything, so you really need to make sure you train them well and aren't one of those guys who gives them food off your plate and shit all the time cause they'll get into the habit of eating garbage and ripping bags open for scraps.
i've also had a black lab before, but labs i'd say tend to be more on the "big dog" side and they can be a little crazy. especially males. might be tougher to settle them down and turn them into a house dog, if that's your plan, and they need tons of exercise. our retriever was happy with the occasional run, and nightly walks, and she was very calm inside and playful in the yard and whatnot.
i can't really talk about any other dogs, but that's what i've got from my own experience.