The paper investigates the bifurcations encountered in a simple rotor dynamic system interacting with nonlinear impedance forces, generated by the supporting journal bearings of realistic profile geometry. Bearing configurations of finite arc length and of finite width, as implemented in standard design of turbomachinery have been selected, namely, the cylindrical partial arc and the elliptical (lemon) bore profile. The way in which the key design parameters influence the stability of elastic or rigid Jeffcott rotor is discussed. In the scope of this study, the following bearing design parameters are considered: arc length, length to diameter ratio, geometric preload and offset, and properties of the supporting pedestal by codimension-two studies. The bearing model is coupled to a six degree-of-freedom shaft-disk-pedestal model with nonlinear forces calculated from the journal kinematics, bearing design and operating conditions by numerical evaluation of the Reynolds equation for laminar, isothermal flow on a two-dimensional mesh. An autonomous system of differential equations is implemented. Stability of fixed points and of limit cycles for this system is evaluated applying numerical continuation. The results confirm that minor variations in journal bearing design and pedestal properties have the potential to render substantial changes in the quality of stability and the bifurcation set of the rotor dynamic system. Specific bearing profiles render significant increment of instability threshold speed while at the same time supercritical Hopf bifurcations can be shifted to subcritical with resulting instability envelopes to be generated at speeds lower than the threshold speed.