My dogs are first and foremost pets, or perhaps I should say, they are part of the family. I have no problem with interaction with other dogs and people, in fact I encourage it because the more they get to know, the better socialized they are likely to be. That is important because they must comfortably travel and work in strange places and with all kind of distractions, strange dogs and people. The old approach to keep a working gundog in a kennel, or in an outside dog run, is very outdated and a notion we inherited from the British upper classes. In the past few decades the worlds top retriever field trial dogs were almost exclusively from owner / trainers who have them as pets as well as workers. That allows the owner / trainer to bond very strongly with the dog, and that, I believe, is what produces retrievers that will turn themselves inside out to work for you! Where I do keep my young dogs separate from other dogs and people is for a specific situation when I teach them a new command or a new movement. Then you don't want distractions and I find a quiet field somewhere for that. As soon as they have learnt the lesson I test them on a place like Rondebosch Common where there are lots of other dogs and people. When they can obey a command despite the distractions, I know that part of the training was successful, and I move on to the next step.
Ok, sorry, the short answer is that, provided you get a puppy from a working background, where at least you know that it is likely to have a strong retrieving instinct, there is ZERO reason you cannot have a Labrador that will be your best bud, lick the chocolate off the faces of your kids, protect your wife and work as a retriever also.
After having had Labs and worked with them for many years, my wife one day went along to watch us work. She'd never seen it before and she was AMAZED at seeing what her pet could do. She said it was as if it was a totally different dog to the one she knew at home. Somehow, they KNOW what they are meant to do, and you can see them come alive, mentally, when they work.
Sorry, I couldn't stop......I should write a book..............